Bruno woke to the day he considered his most important yet, and with the early morning’s darkness came the cold, wind, and snow. Through the miniscule kitchen’s window on the upper floor, he could see heavy flakes of dancing snow directed by the swirling winds. As he drank a cup of hot coffee he realized his fascination for nature needed snapping out of, and once having come back to reality he visually searched the length of the laneway. It appeared void of activity.
With a thermos of caffeine-infused coffee crucial for his early morning reconnaissance, he decided to reheat the pot of coffee that sat on the stove.
He instinctively knew staying in his truck, until the last moment, was his only option if the present conditions prevailed.
Parking opposite Katherine’s building may have been ideal, but to have a better view he had partially lowered the driver’s window. The splattering of snowflakes on the left side of his face soon became obvious as they blew in through the sliver of space he had created, but wanting a warmer interior was out of the question. A continually idling truck was sure to arouse suspicion. Bruno had his hands shoved deep into the pockets of his heavy winter coat as he sat slumped in the driver’s seat, and each clasped a roll of duct tape, although one pocket also harboured a length of white cord he had discovered in a box of laneway junk. With the balaclava only sitting on the crown of his head, he knew, once inside the building, he implemented the covering of his face.
With almost no street movement, he took the opportunity to pour himself a hot coffee. His gloved hands were coveting the cup’s heat when the woman walked from the building and onto the stoop.
She’s carryin’ her cane basket, and keepin’ to her routine.
Bruno studied her closely as she made her way carefully down the snow-covered front steps, but as she walked to a car, she did so with trepidation. Prior to getting in, she brushed some snow from the windshield with a gloved hand, before doing likewise to the side windows.
If she drives as she’s walkin’, she’ll take longer to get where she’s goin’, and comin’ back. Drivin’ in the snow’s not easy.
As he anxiously awaited the woman’s return, his plan received some consideration. Its execution was in the timing, and the detail.
She’s certainly takin’ her time.
Sophia knew it would be dangerous to drive on the icy streets, but only driving to the markets and back twice a week was not a confidence booster. Unfortunately, partially blocked by a two-car accident was one of the main thoroughfares she had to travel, even though police were controlling the traffic flow. A slower trip was certain. She gave a fleeting thought to returning home, but with the image of a smiling Katherine smelling the cooking veal in mind. It was ample incentive to continue. I have to be back at the apartment before she wakes. I may have to do some shopping tomorrow.
His truck’s side mirror, wet from snow, showed a blurred image of a car travelling slowly along the street. “About time!” Bruno’s frustration was beginning to show.
He could tell by her cautionary movements she was taking care with alighting from the car.
With the goods-laden basket retrieved from the rear seat, she tentatively climbed the front steps as wind swirled the snow.
She’s certainly goin’ slow. She must be afraid of fallin’. I can’t make any mistakes with my timin’.
This’ll be my only chance.
He slid from the driver’s seat, closed the truck’s door, and leaned against it. With crossed arms, he observed her every movement. She made her way to the stoop, leaned forward to put the basket down, and with one hand turned the key, while rotating the door handle with the other.
That was his cue. With bowed head he deliberately slow jogged across Beacon Street, toward her, and only on reaching the sidewalk did he allow himself the luxury of a sneak peek up and down the long street. Luck was on his side; the street with its heavy cover of snow was almost deserted. Good! No witnesses, he thought, as he darted up the steps.
The woman, with cane basket over the crook of her arm, was easing the front door open.
The force, from the violent impact to her upper back, catapulted her across the foyer, to announce the sound of a loud crack. It reverberated throughout the confines of the building’s entrance. Her head had struck the tiled floor. Not only had he timed his run to perfection, he also knew her injuries would be serious.
After quickly shutting the door and locking it he removed the key. No one’s going to escape through that door.
To safeguard his identity he pulled his balaclava down to cover his face, before rolling her onto her back.
If I was a doctor, I’d say she needs an operation, but I’m not, and I won’t be calling an ambulance, he thought, as he looked down at the woman’s blood-covered face.
His glance to the landing above added to his confidence. There were no onlookers.
With the single key opening the door nearest the stairs, and after ensuring the apartment vacant, he dragged the unconscious woman into its hall.
“She’s in a fuckin’ mess.” Her injuries appeared extensive.
The blood trail leading from the vestibule reminded him of the beatings his father had repeatedly bestowed upon him as a young boy and teenager. He knew what the woman would be experiencing.
Without wanting to waste more time he quickly bound her hands and feet with duct tape, and then tape-covered her mouth. He ran back into the foyer, gathered up the basket, strewn vegetables and fruit, and the paper-wrapped parcel. With everything deposited onto the kitchen bench, he then tore open the small paper parcel.
“She went out into the cold just to buy some meat and groceries; she’s fuckin’ crazy!”
He then placed everything carefully into the refrigerator.
The sight of the streaking blood sent him on a quick and sporadic course of wiping the floor clean with a damp towel he’d taken from the bathroom.
With a racing mind came the need for a fix. It had been a few weeks since his last infliction, but when the craving came it required immediate attention.
He removed the glove from his left hand and selected what he thought to be the sharpest of knives from a drawer closest to the sink. After running his thumb along its cutting edge, he mumbled, “It’s not sharp, but it’ll still cut.” That was the objective.
He removed his black winter coat, then his shirt, but his right glove remained in place. The bicep of his left arm flexed large and hard, awaiting the intruder.
Slowly the knife pulled through flesh and muscle; creating a long furrow for the blood’s flow. The magnificent sight of the dark-red fluid running freely down to his elbow and falling to the floor was exhilarating. Although the cut was painful, his adrenaline was surging.
As he watched the blood pooling on the floor he realised he was leaving traceable evidence. Hastily, he stepped over the woman and grabbed a clean dishtowel from a kitchen drawer, then wrapped it around the deep cut. He set about removing the spilt blood from the floor with another he would find hanging above the sink. With the woman still unconscious, he quietly closed the apartment door, and then proceeded cautiously up the stairs to Katherine’s apartment. He slowly pressed his ear to the door. No noise, he thought. Inserting the same key into the lock, and with an open door, his heart pounded against his chest. He had given considerable thought to this very moment. He was about to enter into a world of fantasy. Free to explore at will.
Elated, was how he felt as he closed and locked the door. He knew the living room’s layout. The Harris’s had corralled him there previously. Having the advantage of knowing Katherine’s parents were not home only increased his deranged bravado. The invasion of Katherine’s domain, her castle, was complete.
She’s no longer its ruler … I am!
Although he considered himself in control, he still crept stealthily down the carpeted hall toward the bedrooms. This is Barbara’s, he thought, on entering the first.
The sound of a creaking bed, then of shuffling feet on carpet, forced him to come to a complete standstill.
His racing heart created more perspiration than normal. He could feel the saline fluid on his face absorbing into the balaclava, while rivulets ran from under his armpits to soak into his shirt.
Hearing the flushing of the toilet, he peeked into the darkened hall. Katherine, with her hair sleep-tussled and wearing pink flannelette pyjamas, was heading to her bedroom.
The opportunity to pounce had arrived. A wild black panther was about to be set loose on its prey!
She was in her bedroom doorway with her back to him when he struck.
In his infatuation, he never envisaged hurting her, but Bruno’s thinking could only be categorised as devious, never sound.
The hit to the back of her head with his fist was powerful. It would have ensured she would be unconscious almost from the moment of impact. The impetus from the blow had propelled her forward and onto the bed. The top half of her body was now face down, while her knees and lower legs trailed onto the carpet.
For Bruno violence was manifesting into a mechanism of expression.
He raised her legs and swung them onto the bed. She’s mine, he thought, as he gazed down at her.
Extreme were the contrasts between a large black-clad, violent, menacing figure contemplating the next phase of his plan, and that of an innocent young girl lying unconscious on the bed.
Bruno quickly covered her with a blanket to keep her warm, until the time came to carry her to his truck.
It would be dark and into the early hours of the following morning before he planned on leaving.
Over Katherine’s mouth went the tape, then the tying of her hands to the bedhead.
“Now … what do they have?” Bruno began his inquisitive tour by entering Barbara’s bedroom.
“It’s nothin’ special,” he remarked, flippantly.
As he rummaged through her belongings, the smell of her perfume infiltrated his nostrils. Two bottles of perfume sat side-by-side on the dressing table. Chanel No5. A sealed box contained one bottle; the other had a small quantity of fluid missing. The boxed one he shoved into his coat pocket.
Just what I need, a souvenir, he thought, with a smile.
He glanced into Katherine’s bedroom after walking back into the hall. “She’s not goin’ anywhere.”
Of the remaining bedrooms, one appeared to have had a recent occupant, while the other had no signs of use. Not wanting to linger, he ventured into the kitchen to rustle up some food. A bread bin, containing half a loaf of uncut bread, sat on the sideboard, near the sink.
“I’ll have a sandwich!” he said, on opening the refrigerator.
With sandwich in hand, and a bottle of cranberry juice in the other, he ambled into the living room, to sprawl himself in an armchair. In one swallow, Bruno swilled most of the juice from small glass bottle.
That’s not cheap, he thought, as he studied the stereo. Raising himself from where he sat, he began to browse the multitude of record albums lining a section of the shelves.
“They love their music,” he said, with a vinyl LP record in hand.
Returning it from where it came, he ran the fingers of his left hand along albums’ edges, while glancing at the titles on their spines. Although of different music styles, most were classical or jazz. His fingers then travelled the bumpy edges of books crammed onto other shelves.
“They certainly love art.”
A cursory glance he gave to one corner of the room, where a violin lay straddled across a chair’s arms. Colored photographs of Katherine lining one corner of a shelf attracted his attention. In most photographs, she held a violin, whether seated or standing. Bruno gazed longingly at one framed photo of her seated with violin and bow resting on her lap. She wore a white blouse and black skirt, while her cascading blonde hair rested on her shoulders. The longer he stared the clearer his realisation of being born talentless. His gaze never wavered as he held it.
“I’ve never thought of it before. Why is she good at somethin’ and I’m fuckin’ not?” Tainted were his jealous words. “Why didn’t my father teach me somethin’ … fuckin’ anythin’?” He yelled, furiously.
His left arm sprang out, and with malice borne from anger, he dragged it along the shelf, displacing the framed photos to the carpeted floor as he went. He returned to the scattered images, and with a booted right foot, shattered their frames and glass. Not satisfied with his destruction, he skewed them with his heel until only a mangled mess remained, then, without hesitation, quickly strode to where the violin lay. While his strong calloused right hand encircled its neck, his eyes acquainted themselves with the delicate instrument. “It’s fuckin’ useless!”
With his temper almost at incendiary level, so was his hatred for the fine instrument. It was his antithesis.
Raising it above his head, he ferociously brought it down to strike the desk’s edge. Katherine’s cherished instrument disintegrated into pieces of splintered varnished timber. As its dismembered body scattered across the desk and onto the carpet, pieces remained attached by its strings. The sound produced by the strings, as it went from being whole to one of being in its death throes, surprised him.
“Fuckin’ violin; I’ll give you fuckin’ violin,” he yelled.
Still in a fury he turned his attention to the paintings leaning against a wall near the window, stacked one in front of the other.
Again, his right-booted foot went on a rampage. The destruction of Katherine’s painted canvases happened catastrophically. At his mayhem’s conclusion, each of her painstakingly thought-out and painted pieces lay in ruins.
Bruno’s angry unstable mind knew no bounds. With the near empty cranberry juice bottle in hand he stormed down the hall to Katherine’s bedroom. His vicious kick at the partially open door caused the handle to embed into the wall’s surface.
He looked down at her covered unconscious body. Her life was about to change, forever!