Poison and the cure

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For Douglas and Katrina Posey life is about to unravel an unwelcome surprise.

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Poison and the cure

Her hands were trembling. Katrina had been awake for a while staring at the streetlight across the road from the vacant lot. The dead tree she was resting up against was one of the few trees in the area that didn’t have Mynah’s roosting in it. Their animated chatter carried through the morning air. It had taken her a while to find the exact spot, and now that she had, she just stared at it, as if there was some answer, some missing component that would explain it. Every car that went past, she imagined it was her car.

Rounding the blind corner a little too fast, drifting slightly, and swerving too sharply to avoid the other car, hitting the crash barrier, her son smashing through the windscreen to hit this very tree.

She had been a subsistence level drinker for years but it kind of snuck up on her, like aging; and like aging, once you start, you can’t stop until the ride is over.

What Douglas had done to her, as horrible as it had been was just the nudge she’d needed.

She reached her hand out blindly, patting down the grass for her bottle. Her fingers grasped it. It was empty. She knew just by the feel of it.

‘The ride’s not over yet.’

The mid-morning sun was like a searchlight, stabbing her eyes.

Katrina felt like a waifish, strength -less ragdoll. The wind blustered through the tree-lined streets like a retarded child that needs to touch everything, whipping her to and fro, playfully slapping her hair in her eyes. The only reason she was still standing upright with her sign at the traffic lights was will power, or rather wine power. She hadn’t had any today yet, and her head was not going to let her forget it.


She stared at the faces in the cars. Most didn’t meet her gaze, stoically staring straight ahead. There was a woman beckoning to her from behind the wheel of a silver Mercedes. Katrina stumbled up to the window. The woman was frowning. She reached over to the passenger seat and took a grocery packet with bread and milk in it.

‘Here, take it. It’s food.’

Katrina stared at the arm that was holding the packet out of the window like it was a crucifix warding off evil.

‘No thanks.’ She turned back toward the pavement.

‘I won’t help you poison yourself!’ the woman shouted at her back.

‘That’s too bad.’

Katrina glanced across the street. There was a large mirror window across the entrance to a restaurant.

The blond woman she saw in it was small and withered, used-looking like a dog’s favorite chew toy, in her dark blue dress with sunflowers on it that looked like she’d rolled around on a mechanic’s workshop floor. She waved.

A red VW Beetle pulled up in the empty parking bays behind the traffic light.

The moment he stepped out in his plaid suit, sunglasses and dickey hat she knew something was wrong. The old man had this nerve twitch in his forehead that made it look like he was randomly frowning every few seconds. He was wheezing like he was out of breath.

′ You! You have to help me! My wife! She just phoned me, she fell in the bath. Stupid woman.′


Douglas watched, parked down the street as the tall old man dressed like a Jehovah’s Witness spoke to Katrina in front of his car. His wife was looking particularly frail today, a sight which pleased him.

Douglas massaged his moustache with his thumb and forefinger.

Where is this little interaction leading?

He stood in front of her like a frustrated robot, twitching and wheezing; lifting his feet as though to take a step and letting them drop again.

Katrina sighed.

‘Got anything to drink?’


She pointed at her sign.

The old man’s lips moved as he read.

‘No, no, no. Of course not.’

‘Well…sorry…’ she began to say, but he interrupted.

‘Wait! OH! Yes, yes, yes. Hold on a minute..’

The old man opened the passenger-side door and began rifling through his grocery bags.

Douglas was hopeful.

After all he had put her through physically and psychologically she was still alive.

Douglas had been keeping an eye on Katrina whenever he got the chance over the last month and a half since she’d walked out of the house. She’d moved around quite a bit.

He’d seen her begging, stealing, getting raped by a pair of drunken hobos, sometimes she’d get in a man’s car and they’d drive off.

As far as he’d seen lately she’d been spending her nights in a vacant, overgrown lot behind the shopping Centre.

Douglas’s phone rang.

It was George, the young guy who was running his second-hand shop for him.

‘Yes George, what can I do for you sir?’

‘Hi Doug, I’ve got a lady here…She’s interested in that table? You know the one that guy wanted to buy on Friday? The thick one?’

The thick one.

Sometimes Douglas walked a fine line. He was forced to trust the boy to run the business on a day to day basis, but the value of certain items he kept to himself. If George knew their actual value he might be tempted beyond his otherwise obedient nature.

So Douglas had instructed him to call him if someone showed interest in one of these items.

The ‘thick one’ as George put it was worth more than George earned in two years.

‘Yes George, alright…Put her on…’

Douglas’s phone beeped three times in his ear and died.

He stared at it.

‘Fuck!’ he accused the blank screen.

‘Ah!’ The old man turned to her triumphant with a one and a half liter bottle of Autumn Harvest Crackling, still beading moisture from being in the cold room.

Katrina immediately began salivating.

‘Okay, okay let’s go. Let’s just get this over with.’ She grabbed the bottle, screwed off the cap and began drinking.

The old man grinned and started shifting his groceries to the back seat.

When he was done she clumsily got in. He closed the door after her and shuffled around to the driver’s side. When he was in he took the bottle from her hands and took a large gulp, then giggling started the engine.

Douglas’s eyes rose from the phone just in time to see the old man’s car pulling off into traffic with Katrina inside. He tossed his useless phone onto the passenger seat.

‘Oh no you don’t…’

He had no time to consider an appropriate course of action. All he could do was follow the car.

So he did.

Douglas was a very unwilling participant in his own patience.

He sat in his car across the street from the house where his wife had entered with the old man. It was a quaint little two story house, painted light blue.

Over the years he’d learned to pretend a lot of things. Love, patience, compassion. None of these things were real.

Douglas shifted his weight and his considerable gut gurgled.

Outside, the wind was finally bringing rain in heavy gouts.

In his experience, lurking behind each of those pseudo virtues was a real emotion.

Lust. Greed. Fear.

His stomach gurgled again. One of the problems with being hefty was getting hungry. When he’d been in the police Douglas had worked hard to build himself up, but since being forced into retirement he’d not maintained that same level of activity.

Why was he here? Sitting in his car across the street from this quaint little blue house with the white picket fence?

He couldn’t be sure what was going on inside, but he was pretty sure it wasn’t pleasant, at least he hoped so.

Douglas reached over to the cubby hole and began rifling through it.

When the accident had happened Douglas had wanted to throttle his wife. Casey had been the only person in the world who had actually trusted him. The fact that that trust was unwarranted was neither here nor there. Everybody lies. Everybody cheats; everybody looks out for themselves first, except his son had been slow on the uptake. The naïve little fool had seen something in him. Something that wasn’t there, of course but she had taken that illusion away.

His fingers finally grasped something crackly.


Douglas took out the half eaten Cabanossi stick he’d bought earlier this morning. Looking at the packaging, he idly wondered where the meat came from. The label was plain enough. ‘Uncle Ralph’s meat’ it read. It was a bit tough but quite tasty.

Douglas hadn’t wanted her in jail. He wanted her to die, but it couldn’t be his fault.

He’d called in a favor and arranged for the breathalyser results to disappear. Then he’d locked her in a room, tied to a chair.

‘You want to drink?’ he’d asked her. He’d made her drink, forcing alcohol down her throat for three days in a row; holding her nose closed when she refused to open her mouth and swallow. On the fourth day he’d untied her in her sleep and left the door open. He’d been monitoring her disjointed progress ever since, so tragic.

Douglas saw movement out of the corner of his eye. He turned to see what it was.

Douglas writhed into consciousness choking on his own saliva; something covering his mouth. It felt like his head was doing somersaults as blood pulsed through it.

He over-balanced, tipped over, falling forward. Douglas recognized the motion and instinctively tried to reach out and break his fall. His face and knees connected with hard, cold concrete. Bright pain lanced up through his face and knees forcing a muffled scream out of his mouth.

Douglas snorted blood and mucous out of his nose like a bull. Like a bull he bucked and struggled against his restraints. This was a bad situation.

He was tied to a chair in the dark with a gag in his mouth. The sweat drying on his body told him that he was naked.

Where the hell was he again?

Douglas heard rain outside.

He’d been sitting in his car….But hadn’t that been yesterday?


When it felt like the rushing inside his head was subsiding he realized he was listening to something.

It sounded like someone arguing with a talking parrot; except the parrot was just squawking indistinctly.

There was a harrowing shriek that made his scrotum shrink and gave him goose pimples.




There was more squawking.



A door opened and closed. Douglas heard bare feet slapping against bare floor, coming this way. The door opened and the room was flooded with light. There was a skinny old man with a high forehead and a tuft of white hair gathered around his head like a wreath. Short, white snarls of hair clung to his body like moss. He looked completely different and not only because he was naked and covered in blood. His body language was different. The only thing that was the same was the incessant frowning.

‘Who are you sir? And what were you doing skulking outside my house? ’

He took a swig from the bottle of wine in his hand and set it down on top of the metal cupboard by Douglas’s head. He squatted down with his hand on the cupboard for stability. The effluvia of dried sweat, blood and cheap wine assailed Douglas’s tacky nostrils. A dribble of urine squirted out of the old man’s penis as he leaned forward to yank the gag down away from Douglas’s mouth.

‘Look, I don’t know what your plan was and frankly I don’t care. I don’t want to know-can you sit me up? It’s really difficult to talk like this..’

The old man’s light blue eyes stared at him, while his hand reached out for something on top of the cupboard.

Something that felt like a meat tenderizing mallet came down on his head and part of his ear.


The blows kept coming. Douglas bucked to try to avoid them.

Someone was tugging on his foot. He just wanted to sleep a little longer. He tried to roll over on his side and couldn’t. His eyes flew open. The old man was staring down at him. Douglas was lying on some sort of gurney, tied down. There was a tube running out of his wrist. It was red with his blood. Douglas tried to move but it was difficult. He felt so groggy and weak.

‘Douglas Posey, what a pretty name you have sir.’ The old man held up Douglas’s ID book, grinning.

‘What are you doing to me?’ Douglas mumbled.

‘I’m draining your blood. I find it’s a lot less messy when I cut you up.’

Douglas moaned.

‘Why? I won’t tell anyone what you did to my wife. I hated her. She killed my son and I drove her to living on the street. I wanted her to die!’

The old man patted his hand gently.

‘Oh don’t worry; I’m sure you’ll get your wish, eventually. I let her go.’

‘What? But…’

‘I only took her because I had no choice; she was what was available, until you came along.’

‘Good Morning, Sir! And how are we today?’ The old man asked as he entered the cave-like Superette.

‘Alright, yourself?’ the young man behind the overcrowded counter replied, straightening.

‘Splendid, splendid. How’s dad?’ The young man absently scratched his belly.

‘Oh you know same as always. I don’t think my father is ever going to slow down.’

‘Been busy? How’s my meat doing?’

The young man shook his index finger in a ‘That reminds me’ gesture.

’Well actually, a customer brought this back, is that mould?′ The young man took the opened Cabanossi stick from under the counter. The’ Uncle Ralph’s Meat’ label was torn so it read’ alph’s meat’.

‘It’s just that one? I’m very sorry about that, sir. Not a problem, not a problem. Look what could have happened was some moisture got in as it was being sealed .Here I’ll swap it out for you, okay? I’ve got some really good stuff this week. Look at this! Hey?’ The old man set down a box with shrink-wrapped meat sticks.

‘Wow, you got a new supplier?’ the young man lifted one admiringly.

‘You could say that.’

‘Plenty of fat on these.’

‘Go on, try one, on me.’

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