“Look mate, I’m not telling you this because I’m looking for some kind of redemption or shit like that. Trust me, no amount of Hail Mary’s are going to cleanse my soul. I deserve whatever is coming my way. I know that. I just need to make some kind of peace with what I’ve done, so that I can get through whatever time I have left.
I swear I didn’t see what was coming when I walked into the police station that morning. I remember the coppers face when I told him I needed to make a statement about a murder. He looked like all his Christmas’ had come at once. There were no nerves, just a bit of a sickly feeling in my gut. I’d been feeling that way ever since the murder. I’d just put it down to the images in my head, and the fact I had run out of drugs.
He led me into some miserable looking room. There was this ‘Formica’ table and a plastic chair in the middle. The seat was hard and uncomfortable. I suppose that’s on purpose. I asked him for a ciggie, and he slid a packet across the surface at me. They weren’t my brand, but I guess beggars can’t be choosers.
He was pretending to be my mate, but I could see the look of contempt in his eyes. I wasn’t arsed to be fair. I was there to tell my story, he was there to listen. It wasn’t important if he liked me or not. So I waited for the click, as he pushed a button on some ancient recording machine. Then I let him have it all.
Tony was my best mate. We grew up in the same street. He lived four doors away and we were in the same class. He’d always been different. It was just little things back then. I couldn’t give you specifics. He was just different and he just got weirder as we grew up. I guess if it’s slow enough, you just don’t notice it. Tony used to talk about frogs, and if you stick them in a pot of water and slowly turn up the heat they’ll just sit there until they eventually boil to death. I didn’t ask him, but I’d put money on him testing that theory out.
I guess I was like one of those frogs. He just kept cranking up the crazy, and I sat right there until it got too hot and too late to do anything about it. Actually it was worse than that, because I realise now that his weird was rubbing off on me the whole time.
The stuff he’d have me doing did shock me at first. In truth it gave me nightmares, but as you adjust to each step away from the line the next one gets that little bit easier to take. Before you know it the line is so far away you just don’t recognise it any more. You start off trying to make sense of kicking some poor kid until he loses his dinner money. You end up laughing as you watch your mate dowsing a tramp in petrol, and setting him alight as the poor fucker sleeps it off in a park.
Actually, I don’t think I found that one so easy to deal with to be honest. It was around then, I think I must have been about eighteen or nineteen at the time, that I remember needing something to take the edge off. Whiskey wasn’t doing it any more.
My mother had started taking pills she got from her doctor. I think I was probably giving her a rough time. I later realised they were for depression and anxiety, so I started taking them from the bathroom cabinet. She knew I was stealing them, but I suppose she was too scared to challenge me. My old fella was either not there, or too pissed to be bothered.
The pig in the chair opposite was desperately trying to stifle a grin. Despite his best efforts, he had a look of the Cheshire fucking cat from that Alice film. I realised I had already just given him one murder. He’ll be dining out on this confession for years. Too fucking right he will. Anyway my guts were in bits by now and I asked him for some ‘Settlers’ or something. He said he would get me the medic once I had finished my statement. So I pushed on, but I was sweating really bad.
Tony was using stuff too, but I don’t think it was for the same reasons as me. He was always chasing the next buzz. If he couldn’t get it from mugging, or random violence he could always turn to coke or crystal meth. I wasn’t really into that shit at first. The way he was on that gear scared the shit out of me to honest.
Tony had a way of getting people to do stuff. You just didn’t want to say no to him. Being straight with you mate, I reckon I was a bit scared of him. So it didn’t take too long for me to cave. By the time of the burglary I was probably using more than he was.
It was early hours. We had watched the old guy’s house for days and we were pretty confident he was alone. The street was just like any other, locked doors and windows. People living in isolation and scared to death. They all had alarm boxes pinned to the front of their houses. Funnily enough the old man’s gaff was the only one that didn’t.
I remember his front door was wooden, and looked rotten. Tony only had to give it a slight shove with his shoulder and it gave way dead easy. I was well topped up on whiskey and meth, but I snorted back a line of coke just to be sure. I was feeling pretty ice, like I could take on any fucker. Mike Tyson could have been in there, and I’d have kicked his arse no problem. Know what I mean?
The copper was scribbling away at his note pad. He asked me for the address, and I told him. I remember saying to him that I really needed to go the bog at this point, but he just went on writing. I took a sip of the water he had got me but it didn’t help.
The house stunk to high heaven. The hallway was long and narrow. It led to a grubby looking kitchen, and I could see a hungry looking dog asleep under the table. It looked up at me and Tony as we came through the door, but it was obviously too weak to bother us. Tony smiled at me, and said something about having some fun with it when we’d finished robbing the place. I think I just laughed.
There was a door on the right side of the hall and a staircase on the left. The wallpaper was old, dirty and peeling off the walls. Tony told me to check in the downstairs room but it was empty. We knew the old guy would be in bed. It was going to be a piece of piss, and we both walked up the stairs. I don’t even think we were quiet about it.
The first room we entered was like an Aladdin’s cave. There was a cabinet filled medals and jewelery. The place was a shrine to some woman, probably the old man’s wife. Her picture was everywhere, as well as some showing him much younger and in uniform.
Tony handed me the rucksack and told me to start filling it. We cleaned the place out, and the bag was quite heavy when we had finished. Then it was on to the next room, and I knew the old boy would be asleep in there. Tony just bursts in all guns blazing. He really pissed me off to be honest. We could have just crept in there and took his swag. We’d have been back out on the street in no time, and he’d have been none the wiser, until he woke up that is.
That was never in Tony’s plans though. I realise that now. He wanted the old man to wake up. He buzzed off fear, and he wanted to see the terror in his eyes. That’s not the way it went down though. The old feller was out that bed so fast, it took us both by surprise. He was lashing out and throwing punches. One of them caught me on the jaw, and I went flying. I think I hit my head on the wall. It’s still sore now.
The copper taking my statement looked up at this point. I knew what he was thinking before he opened his mouth. His every word dripped sarcasm. I wanted to answer back, but my guts were in full revolt. I actually thought I was going to puke right there and then, but somehow I hung on. If I could have spoke then I’d have told him I wasn’t after a self defence plea.
He got up and left the room. I must have looked bad because he had gone to get the duty medic. It was a waste of time, because all he did was take my blood pressure, and mutter that the interview could continue. Like he was going to say anything else. I chugged back the water and carried on.
The room was dark, and at first I thought that Tony must have tripped or something, because next minute he was on the deck. What I heard next scared the shit out of me. The old guy was growling. I kid you not, and I don’t mean like he was angry or scared or something. It was a full on fucking growl, like a Wolf or a Tiger or something.
He moved across the room really quick, and as he passed the window the light from the street lamp outside lit him up. His face man, scariest thing I’ve ever seen. I must have pissed my pants, cos they were soaking wet when I eventually got out of there.
I still can’t work out why he let me go. I remember I was crying like a girl. Maybe he took pity on me. He never took pity on Tony. I’ll never get the screams out of my head. No matter how much he begged the old guy, or thing. Whatever he was, he just kept slashing and biting. There was blood everywhere. Some of it was on me. Actually a lot of it was. I had to burn my clothes afterwards.
Then Tony went quiet, and the old guy started to eat him. I could hear him tearing away lumps of flesh and chewing. Then crunching, I thought I caught sight of him gnawing on my mates hand. The whole thing was so messed up. I could feel my heart in my chest. My head felt like it was going to explode. A voice inside was screaming at me to run.
I guess I must have because the next thing I remembered, I was out on the street, shaking and crying. I don’t know how long it took, but eventually I got it together and just ran. I can’t remember the last time I ran so fast. When I got back home, I just collapsed. I woke up around dinner time the next day.
My head felt like there was a swarm of bees in it, and my stomach ached. I needed a hit, but I knew there was nothing in the house. Then it all came back to me. I tried ringing him, but Tony didn’t answer his phone. It was more out of hope that I called him anyway. I thought it might have been a bad trip or something. I just couldn’t believe he was dead.
The first time I saw him after that, I was so relieved. For the briefest of moments I convinced myself I had imagined it all. Then I realised I was withdrawing. I had got up in the night to take a pee, and as I opened the toilet door I almost had a heart attack. He was standing there pointing at me. Three of the fingers on his right hand were missing, and his t-shirt was shredded and bloody. I thought I saw part of his bowel hanging out.
He looked really pissed off with me. I shouted to him that I was sorry. The old man was too fast and too strong I said, but he just faded away like a fucking ghost. I didn’t sleep at all that night. Instead I lay there just waiting for him to come back. He didn’t, but he was there in the kitchen when I got up. Again he didn’t say anything, just pointed at me.
Tony followed me all over the place. He was proper haunting me. There was nowhere to hide. My head was battered. Why was he angry with me? Did he think I had abandoned him? I supposed he was right. I had offered nothing in his defence.
On the morning I walked into the police station, I’d had enough. I actually thought about going to church and confessing at first. Yes I thought that would make you laugh. I’m not sure why I chose the cop shop though. I was out walking, and somehow I just ended up outside the place. Now I have had enough time to think it over, I guess it had something to do with guilt.
The copper was looking at me in sheer disbelief when I described how Tony was haunting me. He made some crack about drugs messing with my head. Can’t say I blame him to be fair. It was a crazy story. When he stopped writing and tossed the pen down, I actually thought he was going to kick me out, or have me sectioned. I wouldn’t have minded the latter.
Then my gut went into meltdown. I heaved but nothing came. Then again. The copper leapt from his seat, and made for the door. He must have thought I was going to bite the big one right there. You should have seen the look on his face. Then it all came up. It was like a river. I thought it wasn’t going to end.
At first I panicked when I saw the blood, but then I realised what was happening. Strange images were playing out in my head. I tried to block them but they were persistent. I saw myself kneeling over Tony. His eyes were wide and lifeless. His mouth all twisted. He looked really scared. I remembered feeling a terrible rage. The blood in my sick wasn’t mine, I knew it then.
Then came another wave, and I hurled again. The table top was covered with vomit. It stunk. I mean not like the usual sick smell. This was really bad. I had already worked it out by this point, but the sight of Tony’s half eaten finger amidst the sea of puke sealed it for me.
From behind me I heard the door open again. I turned to see the copper clasp his hand over his mouth. His face was a terrible shade of green. I can remember looking up at him, my eyes streaming and just saying, it was me. Oh my God it was me. I don’t remember much after that to be honest. They must have shot me full of tranquillizers, but the memories still won’t go away. They haunt me.
So tell me Doctor, how the hell do I make peace with that?”