A Blast from the Past
For William N. Parker, the best part of killing his bitch of a wife was hearing her carotid artery rupture as the knife blade parted it. What he didn’t enjoy, however, was the sudden squirt of very hot blood that drenched his hand and sprayed like fine red paint into his scowling face. Helen bucked violently and her eyes bulged like two ping-pong balls. She gripped his shoulders with hands that felt more like bird talons; digging her perfectly manicured fingernails into his skin. She made a dreadful noise, Urrk, urrk, urrrrrrrk! and for a wild moment it looked as if she would go on struggling forever. But he simply forced the blade deeper still, grunting with the effort, pinning her flat to the kitchen floor, which was already awash with pumping blood. Helen gave one final jerk, her hands clawed now at thin air instead of him; and she uttered one last urrk before slumping and releasing her bowels.
Parker relaxed and blew out a steady breath. For a moment he stared down into her open, glazing eyes; watching her life force fade like a bulb’s afterglow.
‘There,’ he whispered, feeling sweat trickle off the end of his nose. ‘You see? Fuck with me and this is what you get, Helen. Did you seriously think I’d never notice? Is that what you thought? Leave me in debt to the sum of six thousand pounds, for Christ’s sake, while I’m working away trying to give you a better fucking life?’
Of course, Helen didn’t reply. She was dead; twitching.
‘You stupid cow,’ he muttered angrily. ‘Look at you now, Helen, just look!’
Helen Parker twitched her left leg and a quick shiver ran through her cooling body.
Parker stood up slowly, hearing the steady plip, plip, plip of blood as it dripped from his hand. The knife was still buried in Helen’s neck; almost up to the handle.
Shock hadn’t set in yet, that much Parker was aware. He needed to use this brief interlude to think his way out of this situation before blind-panic set in. He lit a cigarette and stood there puffing on it, leaving red fingerprints all over the filter and paper. It tasted of blood and hot smoke. Maybe that was what the air in hell tasted like, too.
After a moment he stubbed the cigarette out and began to massage his forehead, thinking, thinking, thinking.
Ok. So she’s dead. The deed is done. And now that he had time to think about it, he realised just how clumsily and messily he’d delivered her final moments. A knife in the neck, for God’s sake! Why not rat poison in her red wine? In fact, why didn’t he get her drunk, have sex with her, and then throttle her with one of her black, silky stockings? That way he could have told the police it was a kinky game that had gone horribly wrong. But no, he chose to grab a carving knife – the most indiscreet murder weapon next to a gun – and stab her in her graceful, swan-like neck.
It was no good thinking like this. He couldn’t go back in time and try it another way, could he? What’s done is done, as his Mother was fond of saying. Yeah, good old mum, he thought. Another bitch who’d never stopped nagging.
It needn’t have happened either, that was the tragedy of it. He was working away in Belfast on a building site when a text message from his bank came though on his Smartphone. It was alerting him that was overdrawn and he urgently needed to contact his local branch. Confused, thinking he was the victim of fraud, he left the building site and rushed into the town centre. After speaking to a female cashier with gorgeous gingery hair and Irish eyes, who pointlessly tried to calm him down, he discovered that it was Helen – using the card he’d left for emergencies only; i.e.: food, drink, bills; that sort of thing, but oh, no. Helen hadn’t wanted the boring and the mundane; she wanted the lifestyle suited to a footballer’s wife.
Bitch! Stupid bitch!
Well, they couldn’t afford that sort of lifestyle. They struggled to afford anything these days, let alone all the expensive junk she’d been buying. He’d been in a blind rage ever since Belfast; even on the return journey back to Coventry he’d been filled with a white-hot anger that wouldn’t simmer down. They’d had a blazing row as soon as he’d stepped through the front door (it was a good job they lived in a detached cottage, because the neighbours would have been thumping on the walls) and then, when Helen had accused him of neglect, a red mist had descended. The knife had been in his hand before he knew what was what, and the deed was done.
And here he was now, looking like a slaughter-house operative, wondering just what the hell he should do next.
His eyes skipped up to the kitchen window. It overlooked their wildly overgrown back garden. He moved closer and peered out, his eyes narrowed. The lawn was full of knee-length grass and stinging nettles, whilst beyond it was his vegetable patch and decrepit greenhouse. The veggie patch was kept well maintained, with runner beans crawling over criss-crossed bamboo sticks, and three rows of healthy green lettuce already ripe for the picking. It was quiet and secluded down there, shielded on both sides by weeping-willow. He looked back at Helen’s sprawled body, then back out of the window again.
Maybe. . .
A few moments later, he was inside his greenhouse. It was stiflingly hot and smelt strongly of ripening tomatoes. Beneath the wooden bench where the plants sat in neat rows were bottles of feed, bags of fertilizer and compost, and a collection of various tools wrapped in black bin-liners. He pulled them out and tore the bags open. The first item he removed was his shovel, which he propped up against the bench. He then searched through the other tools until he found his gardening gloves, which were actually a pair of welding gauntlets he’d stolen from the site a few years back. He placed them alongside the shovel. There was also an old pickaxe which had belonged to his grandfather. He knew that the ground a few inches below the veggie patch went from soft top soil to tough clay, broken slates and lots of stones. Digging would be hard going. He may well need it.
Rising back to his feet, Parker grabbed the shovel, pickaxe and gauntlets and stepped out of the greenhouse. A cool breeze swept back his hair and chilled the sweat on his face. If he was going to see this through; to bury Helen beneath the vegetables she had so lovingly tended, then he needed to think methodically. He would need to do it fast, too, because Helen is – had been – a very popular person, and it wouldn’t be long before one of her nosy friends or family members came knocking.
Parker wandered back inside the house and looked down at Helen’s body. She was lying in a wide pool of dark blood, but its flow had stopped along with her heart. The first job was to get her wrapped up in something; something that would disguise her shape, just in case somebody was looking when he removed her from the house. Parker lit another cigarette as he mulled the problem over. Once Helen was covered up, he would then need to scrub the kitchen floor with bleach and hot water, then he would need to strip off his clothes and burn them behind the greenhouse. And as for the knife, well, the knife would need disposing off someplace else – no murderer in his right mind would keep the weapon anywhere near the crime scene; not with all that incriminating DNA plastered all over it!
Parker flicked his cigarette out of the open door and deliberated for a moment. Up in the attic, he knew, was a roll of carpet. It had been up there for years; so long that he could hardly remember what colour it was, but that hardly mattered. What did matter was that it would be ideal for what he had in mind.
The attic smelt dusty and unused. Over his head thick timber rafters angled upwards, supporting the cottage’s immense roof. A few years previous, Parker had covered the floor with wood cladding making it safer to walk on. He boosted himself up through the hatch and knelt for a moment in the cool dark before switching on his torch. He was starting to shake, and his mind was gradually beginning to accept what he’d done; and was set to carry on doing.
He was a murderer; a cold-blooded killer.
Parker tried to process that thought. He’d become that person on the TV news; the one police are keen to speak to, the person who gets his or her ugly mush flashed up on the screen, and the person the public all instantly hate and decide to judge, without even knowing the facts.
That’s what he was – or at least he soon would be if he wasn’t careful – he was pub-talk fodder. He was the bogeyman that kids spoke about in playgrounds and mothers whisper about over cups of coffee. Plus, if ever he was caught, he would be the scary legend connected forever with this house. Parker smiled. He liked these fleeting fancies. He shone the torch beam all around him and saw objects loom and distort in waxing shadow. He moved further in, manoeuvring past an old lamp and stacked boxes full of books. The roll of carpet was where he had left it years before; propped against the brick chimney-breast and covered in clear plastic.
It was heavy, and as he moved it from its position the weight of it almost sent him toppling backwards. He grunted and hoisted it onto one shoulder. The dust covering the plastic made him sneeze, twice. Goddamn woman, he thought, making all of this unnecessary hard work for me!
Parker allowed the carpet to drop down through the loft hatch and thump heavily on to the hallway floor. Thumbing off the torch, he jammed it in his back pocket and stepped out of the loft onto the ladder. By the time he’d clambered down, he was sweating and shaking. He wanted another cigarette to calm his jangling nerves, but too much time had been lost already. The front door was still unlocked, and anybody, at anytime, could just wander in and find Helen’s body; and that would be the end of that.
Parker dragged the carpet over to the stairs and let it torpedo down in front of him; the plastic covering crinkling back like the skin of a sausage. With a solid bang it struck the front door, and Parker hurried down the stairs after it. This is where he needed to take special care so as not to draw attention to the house. He may not have neighbours, but people did live directly across the road from him, and most of them were nosy bastards, too.
If they did happen to see anything odd, then he had no doubt they’d come snooping.
And maybe then he’d have another body to deal with!
Grabbing the carpet, Parker dragged it behind him through the hall and straight into the kitchen. He dropped it near Helen and stood over her for a moment, thinking, scratching his forehead with a thumbnail. Was it best to dig the hole first or leave it till last? Should he wrap her up with other house-hold items to disguise her shape or not? God, he wished there was a handbook written on murder; one called Mopping Up The Evidence Part 1!
The logical part of his mind insisted that he should lock the front door, grab his shovel and pickaxe, and get the hole dug first. Yes, obviously, because then it was simply a case of wrapping Helen up, dragging her out once the sun had set, and kicking her into the hole.
It all sounded so easy. But of course actually digging said hole was going to be back-breaking work, plus it needed to be deep; like really deep.
And that would take time – which was rapidly running out.
Parker was standing in a hole six feet long by three wide, up to his knees. He’d stopped for a quick cigarette, but now he was back in full-flow. The sun was gradually sinking lower, shadows were lengthening and the sky was a darker shade of plum. He was using the pickaxe now, because he’d met with the broken slate and rocks which he knew lay just beneath the soil’s surface. Shirtless, smeared with dirt and sweat, he swung it up, then brought it whistling down, repeating the process again and again, hacking deeper into the compacted earth. With each impact he grunted through clenched teeth, and by now the tendons and muscles in his arms and upper back were tight and screaming in protest. The welding gauntlets he wore were sweating his hands and made digging extremely awkward, but there was no point in risking being caught that way; by having dirt firmly lodged under his fingernails and in the creases of his hands.
The pickaxe whooshed down and hacked deeply into the soil.
He was more determined than ever to get away with this! He had a friend – one he communicated with often on Facebook – who lived in Scotland, near Loch Ness. Maybe he could go up there and stay with him for a few days, to get his head straight. Obviously, he wouldn’t tell his friend about any of this, but he could use the excuse that he and Helen had decided to split and he needed some space to think.
He suddenly stopped mid-stroke; the pickaxe poised over his left shoulder.
He stood perfectly still; listening, his eyes darting side to side. He was sure he’d heard Helen’s voice. In his mind, he saw her scrambling to her feet, slipping in her own blood, gripping the kitchen worktops for support. She would then stagger out of the back door towards him on stiffening limbs, glaring at him, her teeth bared in a furious and bloody snarl. . .
Parker stared at the house, frozen to the spot like a store mannequin. The only sound now was the strengthening wind that fluffed around his ears and chilled the flesh on his arms and back. And yet he didn’t shift his gaze from the back door, expecting to see her lurch out at any moment, like a blood-drenched zombie.
But that didn’t happen, either.
The bitch was dead.
He relaxed – if only slightly – and continued to toil with the pickaxe. Once she was in the hole and the shallow grave was filled in, he would then clean the house and himself, burn his clothes as planned, and then contact his friend in Scotland. With a little bit of luck, he could be on his way there by first light tomorrow.
He stopped again, breathing heavily. Was it even worth wrapping her in the carpet? Why not just drag her out and hurl her into her final resting place? He considered this for a lengthy moment, and then discarded it. Yes it was worth it; for two reasons: Firstly, somebody might see him dragging a dead body out of the house, and secondly, if and when somebody digs down far enough into the veggie patch, all they would find was soggy carpet instead of a grinning skull.
He had to stick to his original plan; no deviations.
Parker swung the pickaxe down, and heard a metallic TINK!!
The whole world suddenly turned blinding white and it sounded as if somebody had fired two revolvers against his ears. Parker was thrown backwards and viciously torn apart by the force of the blast; much of his body vaporised by the sudden and intense heat. The rolling shock-wave blew the greenhouse to smithereens, smashed all of the windows on Parker’s cottage and, twenty-five yards away a water-main popped and sent water roaring into the air like a geyser.
A dirty cloud of black smoke, soil, glass and charred vegetables cascaded thirty feet up into the air before clattering back down to earth. Car alarms began to wail, dogs started barking and people came rushing out of their homes to see what had happened. What had happened, as they would soon discover, was that in 1940, during Coventry’s devastating blitz, a specially modified Heinkel He 111 bomber from the Kampfgruppe 100 dropped an explosive that failed to go off. It had never been found because of the way it struck the ground; angled so perfectly it had ploughed deeply into the soil and laid there, slumbering, dormant, but still very much alive.
Until Parker’s pickaxe had revived it; reminding it of its true purpose.
As the kitchen windows sprayed inwards, all over Helen Parker’s lifeless body and shaking the building’s structure, a shard of hooked glass slashed a bloodless diagonal line across her mouth. It cut her deep, but of course she was gone and no longer felt anything, but when finally the police discovered her, one of the officers would comment that she appeared to be grinning, and that grin looked smug. He even went as far to say self-satisfied.