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Murder for Fun
written by: Stanley Wilkin
The murder had occurred somewhere between 7 and 8 in the evening. It had by all accounts been particularly horrible with rivers of blood and profusions of gore. That was the first of many.
Jack was a quiet man who lived alone. He had a dog, which he kept tied up in the backyard. Once a week he deposited lumps of meat around the yard. The dog gorged itself for days. Jack frequently disciplined the resentful animal with a thick cane that he kept in the kitchen. He kept the unfortunate creature for that reason. He loved its frustrated squeals. During the week he worked at the local brewery, cleaning and oiling the machines. It was a tedious job, but one Jack revelled in. Then 40, he’d only once had a girlfriend, twenty years before, but now simply picked up cheap prostitutes when he was able to afford it.
Although apparently a nonentity, someone who’d be ignored in a crowd of 2, Jack enjoyed killing people. A number of his friends did too. He worshipped violent death. When he was killing someone, he felt truly alive.
While introverted bachelors like Jack normally joined chess clubs or sat all night in desolate pubs, he had joined a group of sadists. It had certainly seemed right at the time. With little real interest in sex, he simply enjoyed hurting people. To inflict pain gave him immense and unusual pleasure, like eating a particularly delicious ice cream. Rending and tearing of flesh produced the kind of ecstasy that comes with eating gourmet cooking, while inflicting a slow death resembled for him the sheer satisfying pleasure of smoking an expensive Havana after a hard day. The group met every other Friday after work.
Earlier that year, Jack had been made Chair of ‘Murder for Fun’. After being an active member for seven years it was no more than his due. His first act was to remove the meetings from a hut in a member’s back garden to a rarely used church hall. It was far more comfortable at winter and teas and coffee were freely available. It was a male only club as serial killers on the whole are men.
Meetings tended to involve examination of and debate over a member’s recent killing. Sitting around the long committee table, gorging on Rich Tea biscuits and carefully brewed tea, they garrulously discussed the aesthetic qualities of respective murders, considered each in depth and accordingly marked them from 0 (act not accomplished) to 10 (inflicting extreme abnormal pain over a considerable time span). No 10 also referenced age and gender.
The Club had recently begun a new practice, that of pre-selecting victims. It was a new game, one of Jack’s earlier changes to the monthly routine. A pin would be stuck in a voting registrar, a name selected and 3 months given for the person’s murder. It was an innovation accepted with enthusiasm. Jack supervised the matter. Results were to be verified and recorded 6 months after a victim was selected and the name placed on the group’s billboard.
Jack’s victim was a middle-aged woman called Rosemary who lived in Hampstead, not far from Hampstead Heath. She had been chosen with one swift movement, his dull eyes looking away from the computer before him. With unabashed alacrity, removing his black baseball cap with Murder Club Chair stencilled on it in vermillion, he regaled his fellow members with his bloody intentions, going into surprisingly lurid detail. His vivid imagination was applauded enthusiastically.
As it was a competition, Jack back at home researched Rosemary thoroughly. Visible on Facebook and Linkedin, he found an attractive woman with short auburn hair, a pale, cheerful countenance, smartly dressed and with a professional demeanour. Before her divorce, several years before, she had worked as a primary school teacher. Now, according to Facebook, she ran a private tutoring service that provided help for over-anxious parents with intelligent children.
Placing immense importance on this particular task, apart from employing the internet, he also decided to follow her to discover her daily routine. This meant waiting in a car and noting when she left home each day and following her, observing her movements. He sent his disinterested employer a sick note, unwilling to lose even a week’s money.
No one missed him! He was like an oiled nut that hardly worked, and wasn’t important to the machine’s overall efficiency.
A week later, sitting in his ancient Fiesta, he saw Rosemary and was surprised at how explicitly he reacted to her carefully assembled femininity; her hair expensively cut and dyed, make-up subtlety applied, and clothes chosen to reflect her own haunted colouring. His eyes locked onto her, appraising her exceptional appearance, as she walked across the road and towards the nearby shops. He watched as she left the shops and carried on into Hampstead. He left his car and began to follow her.
Later at home again, Jack considered Rosemary’s imminent death, which he truly desired to be a work of art, a well-constructed, intricate collage of blood and limbs. A performance that would impress his colleagues. The pain he would inflict both exquisite and enduring. He felt a classy woman like her deserved such a classy end and it was his clear duty to provide it. He was proud of his artistic inclinations, keeping hundreds of photographs of his many previous efforts in a secret compartment in his lounge floor, which he only showed to his few friends from the Club on very special days. Secreted away in a disguised cubby hole in the kitchen were amateurish if vividly-coloured paintings of his many achievements.
He quickly began his plan, handing the first draft over to the adjudicator at the Club.
After a week he had discovered Rosemary lived alone with only her son coming to visit her at weekends. She went shopping every other day, occasionally went to wine bars with friends, appeared to have no lovers, and generally lived a quiet life. Based on this information he devised a plan. In order to create an elaborate assassination, to fill her final minutes with excruciating psychological and physical torment, and, in this age of advanced accessible technology, filmed not just photographed, he decided to become friendly with her first. He thought it might add depth. As a reserved shy man he was uncertain quite how to achieve that.
A week later, on a drizzly Thursday.
His victim was sitting with her friend in a darkened wine bar. It was the kind of burnished eatery of which Hampstead was renowned-at least up to Camden Town, and to a lesser extent Kentish Town and Euston. Vibrant Spanish music was playing. Guitar sounds moulded into passionate cat-calling and the tippy-tappy of over-exerted dancing. He watched her out of the corner of his eye as he tried to consume, with difficulty, the House wine. To his horror, she suddenly glanced over in his direction and smiled. To his surprise, he smiled back. He hadn’t smiled at a woman since he dear mother had died, and even before that rarely. Momentarily, he thought that he must be turning mad.
The music turned into the garrulous throbbing rhythms of combined guitars, castanets and desert-dusted sunshine that muddled his dark soul. He directed his normally intense gaze back to his meal, a carefully arrange assembly of meatballs, cabbage and asparagus. A few minutes later, her friend rose and shaking Rosemary’s hand left. The friend glanced in his direction as she negotiated the small tables between her and the door. Within minutes, digging into his pudding, Jack felt a presence and looked up to find Rosemary standing over him.
‘Can I join you?’ She asked. ‘I hope you don’t mind.’
Jack stumbled over a response. In the meantime she sat down opposite him.
‘I saw you staring. Have we met before?’
He struggled to meet her gaze. ‘Was I staring? Sorry.’ He blushed.
‘No, that’s alright. It’s flattering.’ She smiled sweetly. ‘She downed her drink. ‘What is your name?’
Jack rarely found himself the object of female attention. Realising that for some disturbing reason he at that moment was, he blushed even more- the space between his collar and neck the colour of subdued scarlet.
‘Can I get you a drink?’ He asked eventually.
‘Thank you.’ She cooed. ‘My name’s Rosemary.’
He thought it was a lovely name. ‘My name’s Jack.’
She put out her hand. ‘Nice to meet you, Jack.’
Within an hour, Jack who had never managed to relax in an attractive woman’s company before, was making jokes, striking poses and expressing opinions. In yet another hour they were laughing happily together, connecting over a bottle of wine. In yet another, Jack felt as if she was absorbing him like a particularly fragrant tissue, mopping up his consciousness. He became captivated by her eyes, her mouth, and her voice. In that moment, albeit temporarily, she ceased to be his potential victim. They parted at eleven, exchanging phone numbers.
Back home sipping cocoa from his favourite mug, Jack was mortified by his lapse. He prized professionalism above all, feeling he had let his calling down. An assassin should not by his code have genuine intimacy on any level with the mark. He awoke the following morning full of shame and guilt.
On the mantelpiece downstairs was her phone number. He picked up the paper, thinking to throw it away. He put it back instead.
Later, he could not explain why he had rung her up. It wasn’t like him at all. They arranged to meet at a restaurant in Belsize Park.
She chose an Italian restaurant by the Underground Station. Smiling, she told him she had been there before and particularly liked the food. Although the meal proved delicious, the spaghetti smooth and plump, the price concerned him. She talked at length about her family. Occasionally, she enquired after his life. He, throughout, remained focused on her beautiful eyes. His gaze automatically rested upon her bosom, taking in the unblemished white of each breast.
‘Jack’, she purred, ‘I don’t understand why you have never been married. You listen to a woman. Few men know to do that. It’s a lovely quality.’
She lifted her glass. He lifted his, and they toasted the night and each other.
Sucking in the spaghetti, they gabbled on until closing time.
At forty-six she was in her prime. No longer married, she took her sex where she found it. Jack by contrast had never slept with a woman who had not asked for money afterwards. When she invited him back to her house, he truly imagined it was for a coffee before he embarked on the hour-long journey home. He had no idea he was now expected to provide further entertainment. In front of a twinkling television screen, as they slowly kissed, she carefully dispossessed him of his trousers and shirt. He had little time to worry about his over-reaching stomach and flabby, descending man-boobs.
It was the day before the next meeting and she was of course still alive. Jack knew that unless he provided the other members with a suitable reason for her continued existence, he would lose his position as Chair. Lying would not solve the problem, as all assassinations were intricately checked by the other members. Any story he concocted would quickly be exposed. He had only two weeks to go.
Jack had a tough decision to make. Did he protect his new love, and therefore lose all that he had worked so long to achieve, or complete his mission, thereby rejecting the only real affection he had ever known. Jack tussled manfully with the problem, scarcely sleeping at nights as he attempted to reach a decision. In the end analysis, the respect of his colleagues, the importance of his position in the group, he decided was of greater moment than the love of a woman. He would, in the short time left, complete his task.
As he had left it so late, Jack had to abandon subtlety and the artistic flourishes for which he was already renowned. It had to be a straightforward stabbing or shooting. Something quick, clean and commonplace. Already, he began to regret the distraction. Thankfully, they had a date that night.
Once again she had decided where they would go. As if playing into his hands, she had chosen dinner and drink in a pub and afterwards a romantic walk on the nearby Heath where the trees jutted onto the fields. There was only a slight trace of moonlight that night, a heavy bank of dark cloud moving relentlessly over the horizon.
Jack wore his bulkiest jacket, in which he secreted a short knife wrapped within a strip of chamois leather, a longer kitchen knife in a scabbard, and a revolver. The latter he hated using, as he felt it was too impersonal, and, as a way of committing murder lacked finesse and delicacy. For Jack, each death required a degree of intimacy, some kind of relationship with the victim. Otherwise, there was no fun in the process. The cold evening air made his choice of coat feasible.
At dinner, her conversation was delightful as usual. He already deeply regretted what he had to do. He drank one glass of wine more than usual during the meal of spaghetti, sauced-up lamb balls, shredded lamb liver, pulled pork, sherbet and liqueurs. After a coffee, which balanced out the slight surfeit of alcohol, they left for his car. Fifteen minutes later they were walking arm in arm on the Heath.
‘Isn’t this wonderful?’ She said, feeling the cool air on her cheeks.
He touched the large knife buried inside his coat, deciding that was to be his weapon of choice.
‘It’s a truly lovely night.’
He refrained from looking at her directly.
When they stopped on a hill they saw the city, a lurid fusion of lights, laid out before them. The London Eye blazed like a single rosary bead; Oxford Street shimmered with marketing gusto; the Thames was strung out through the city like a diamond encrusted uncoupled necklace. He thought how beautiful it was, regretting his plans. It was a night for love, for lovers. Her hand rested on his back, journeying up towards the nape of his neck, playing with his hair. Thinning on top, as a lonely concession to unconventionality, he sometimes wore the much thicker hair nestling against his neck in a ponytail.
She, to his intense disappointment, withdrew her hand.
While below them the entire city seemed suffused with light, darkness spread across the now apparently empty Heath. There was no sound except for the rustle of expiring leaves and a pinging noise as the wind plucked them from branches. He grasped the knife, pulling it from its hidey hole. He turned slightly. It was then that she blew the back of his head off.
The shot was muffled by a small silencer she had attached to the barrel earlier. His body immediately fell to the grass, brain and blood flying everywhere. As there was no point admiring her handiwork, she walked back to his car, placing the revolver in her handbag as she walked. In the car she calmly applied lipstick, taking out her mobile phone.
‘Job done.’ She said into the phone. ‘Easy number. He’s missing most of what little brain he had.’ She laughed. ‘Splayed out on the heath. Straight to plan.’ She laughed again, starting the car. ‘That’s my fifth. Easiest of the lot. So now do I become the Treasurer? It’s about time I sat on the committee.’
She reversed the car, and sped out of the Heath. Half hidden in bushes, the body wasn’t discovered for two days.