Different Ways of Killing Trilogy Part 3
You kept calling me Donnie. Donister’s Bottom is what I said, but Grit was slipping you another whisky chaser and after that it all got a bit messy.
Grit and your brother scarper when you are having a pee. I find you sitting in the phone box outside the Rose and Crown trying to put your mobile in the credit card slot. You look bloody awful. I say, ‘Can I help you mate?’
‘Donnie!’ you cry and then you throw up all over my new boots. ‘Let me wash those…’ you offer, but Milo’s locked up. The Rose and Crown is impenetrable. ‘All those hedges,’ you say. ‘Can’t see a thing. No idea where to go.’
‘Where are you staying?’ I ask, lifting you to your feet.
‘Stag do,’ you say. ‘Do you know Grit?’
‘I know Grit,’ I say.
‘In his pig sty. Pigs arrive tomorrow.’
‘I can walk you there,’ I say. ‘It’s straight across the fields,’ I gesture with my head.
‘Where?’ you ask.
‘Over South Cerney…’
‘Can’t see a bloody thing with all these hedges,’ you say. Then you tell me you need another pee.
It makes me dizzy helping you out the phone box, dodging all that puke. Bright lights dance in front of my eyes and I reach out to steady myself on the telegraph pole whilst I prop you up against the hedge, trace the outline of your torso against the hawthorn.
‘Grit doesn’t know me but everyone knows Grit,’ I say to you as you shake. ‘Used to have a thing going with his chainsaw. Calmed down a bit now. How do you know him?’ I ask.
‘A friend in possession of pig sty must be utilised,’ you say, turning around. ‘He’s a mate of my brother’s.’ Your arm is across my shoulders and I guess the first kiss won’t be long coming. When you put your hand down my top my eyes are full of silver darts. You try to sing like ‘enry ‘iggens and as we cross the wooden plank bridge over the drainage ditch you tell the cows to stop mooing because they are disturbing your top notes. I don’t let on they are llamas. Town boy.
But a sweet one. You make a nest with your sleeping bag on a ledge Grit has built between the eaves of his pig sty. We crawl in and the boys don’t even notice they left you behind. You could have been in that phone box all night, I say.
I was asleep. I feel the pull in my chest and hear the sudden, final beat of my heart. I knew it could happen at any time; it was why I didn’t hang around. I thought I might feel panic. Instead it is shame; a slight, anguished exhalation. My last word. You fling your arm across my face and pull it back as you turn over, taking the sleeping bag with you until I am quite exposed. I grow cold as you sleep on.
A deep throttle accelerates into a full hearted scream, drilling you deep and fast from your slumber. A chainsaw at daybreak.
‘Shut it Grit,’ you shout. You crack your forehead on the joist of the eaves when you sit up.
‘Bit loud?’ Grit shouts. ‘Pigs comin’ today.’
You prop yourself on your elbow, see your suit. ‘Who puked on my suit?’ you say. You pull on your shorts and lean your stomach and chest over the ledge’s rough sawn edge. ‘I said who puked on my suit?’
‘I said who puked …?’ Chipboard slithers rebound against the boarded out ceiling.
‘Pigs comin’ today, got to get this sty finished before the weddin.’ Grit is joyful with chainsaw in hand.
‘I need a new suit.’ You crawl back in to say to me. ‘Maxine is going to kill me. I need to get it cleaned or I need to get a new one, a new suit in charcoal grey with tails and white tie…’ We are both staring at the chipboard ceiling. ‘The wedding’s at two,’ you say, looking at me. You blink. Then you poke my cheek. I think it’s my open mouth and glassy staring eyes that gives it away.
‘What have you got up there?’ It’s Grit on the ladder with his chainsaw victorious. His hand is stroking its plastic case.
‘A naked woman,’ you say.
‘Looks like a dead woman,’ says Grit.
‘Christ,’ you say. If I wasn’t dead I think that would have been it. Too great an inclination for profanity in times of stress. I would sit you down and tell you and watch you weep.
Now your brother is on the ladder staring. ‘Bloody ‘ell boys,’ he shouts in his Welsh valley accent. ‘That’s a first for a stag do Bruv – fuck a dead ‘un.’
This ceiling has no intrinsic visual appeal, I think.
‘Well she was..er …you know…….,’ you say.
‘Alive,’ I think you mean. I say it to myself but I can’t tell you.
‘What do you do with a dead bird in a pig sty?’ Your brother’s fingers start to tap his phone, ‘What-to-do-with-a-dead-bird’ he is saying.
‘No…’ you lunge at him. ‘They check internet connections. They look at what you’ve downloaded and they’ll know…’
‘Why, what have you done?’ Grit is asking you, grasping my toe. ‘Nice varnish,’ he says. They are all looking at me now. ‘Who is she?’ Someone please close my eyes, I think, save me from looking at all this chipboard, but they don’t. They don’t even think to cover my butt.
‘Ok, does anyone know her name?’
You shrug. ‘Donnie, I think she said her name was Donnie,’ you say.
‘Donnie! What sorts of girl’s name is Donnie? Hi, I’m Don with a rather low voice and three day stubble. Fancy coming back for a bit of patchwork?’ jests Grit.
‘How do you know she’s dead?’
‘She’s not breathing mate,’ Grit is looking down from his perch on the ladder at your brother. ‘Sort of gives it away like.’
‘She might be in a coma,’ suggests your brother.
‘She might be dead,’ says Grit.
They tickle my toes.
‘She’s dead,’ says Grit.
I sense the head scratching.
‘What do we do now?’
‘We?’ says Grit. ‘Not my problem mate. You ‘re the one getting married. I got pigs comin’
I didn’t know you were the groom, I think.
Grit pulls the cord to the saw and shaves through the major joist. The sty shudders.
You are looking up my nose. ‘She really is dead,’ you say. ‘ I’m getting married in four hours and someone’s puked on my suit.’ You sound desperate, ‘I need a new suit.’
‘Go and buy a suit,’ I think, ‘but cover me up before you go. I am stark naked.’
‘W-hey!’ Grit is shouting.
‘Was she dead when…?’ Your brother asks. You shake your head.
‘What do we do with her now?’ you say.
‘Call the Coroner?’
‘Call the Coroner and say what? I’m about to get married but I woke up next to a dead woman? Maxine will love that!’
‘She wasn’t dead when you got her here,’ says your brother.
‘But she’s dead now.’
‘I know she’s dead now but we can’t leave her here?’ says your brother.
‘We haven’t got time to do anything else. We can’t call the police –and I‘ve got to get my suit cleaned….’ you retort.
‘I’ve got me pigs comin’….’ says Grit.
‘Grit!’ you shout. ‘You are brilliant! What do pigs eat?’
‘You can’t feed her to me pigs!’ Grit cries.
‘Why not?’ you ask.
‘They don’t like human flesh. It’s in contravention of the EU food waste regulations.’
‘Since when have you cared about the EU food waste regulations?’ you demand.
‘Since I got a dead woman in my pig sty; now get her out of here.’
Just cover me up, I think.
‘Act normal,’ you say. ‘We’ll cut her up and mix her in with the pig food.’
‘You can’t cut her up,’ says your brother.
‘W-hey!’ Grit is shouting, ‘missile on the Starboard bow.’
You slide down the ladder and suck in your stomach.
‘Maxine!’ you exclaim, hand across the door jam. ‘I’m not supposed to see you.’ You cover your eyes with your fingers.
‘There’s a problem,’ Maxine says. Her voice is silky..
‘What is it?’ you ask Maxine.
‘Registrar’s daughter’s gone missing,’ she tells you.
You cock your head.
‘We’ll have to cancel unless they can find a Duty Registrar from Swindon, but it’s unlikely. They’re saying that today’s their biggest day for weddings.’
‘Not a problem,’ you say. ‘We can do it another day,’ you say. ‘Grit’s puked all over my suit.’
‘Did not!’ counters Grit.
‘Well who did?’
Grit fires up his machine. The ledge between the eaves sways.
‘Pig’s comin’ this morning, Maxine,’ says Grit through the noise, hacking away at the joist with the scream machine.
‘That’s nice Grit,’ says Maxine. Maxine turns towards you. Puts her hand on your chest. ‘You don’t seem very concerned,’ she says softly, like she’s testing you. ‘Of course I am….It’s devastating. Poor Registrar,’ you say. You’re not convincing, I think. ‘When did his daughter go missing?’
‘Our wedding, we are cancelling our wedding, do you understand?’ Maxine is shouting at you. I am slipping sideways like a deck of a boat. You put your hand on Maxine’s arm.
‘Max…,’ you apologise. ‘Late night last night,’ you say. ‘Headache from all THIS BLOODY NOISE,’ you yell over the whine of wincing wood.
‘Van’s here,’ I hear your brother shout.
‘Let ‘em in,’ calls back Grit.
I think he means the gate but your brother backs the van in and says ‘let ‘em go.’ I hear tailgate bolts pull and piglets squeal. Maxine screams and Grit waves his chainsaw over his head and I am rolling, rolling, rolling. You are staring at Maxine. Maxine is staring at my stomach then my butt then my face and finally the back of my thighs as I land face down on the flagstones amongst the rooting, fleeing piglets. It’s not silent with the llamas and the piglets. Grit drops the chainsaw still whirling onto the flagstone floor.
“Who is that? Maxine asks.
‘I dunno!’ you shrug
Is she the Registrar’s daughter?’ Maxine speculates. ‘If it is we can still get married.’
‘Not if I’m in a police cell,’ you say.
‘Why should you be in a police cell?’ Maxine asks.
The chainsaw is snaking closer.
‘We should call someone,’ Maxine says.
‘I tried that,’ says your brother.
Then the piglet van starts up.
‘Hey ho,’ says the driver to Grit signing the papers.
‘You can’t leave her there,’ says Maxine.
Dangerously close, that chainsaw, I think.
‘Hey Ho!’ says the driver into his wing mirror.
I don’t feel anything but I mourn the loss of my limb as Grit’s saw dances on my left arm and over my elbow. I guess there must be blood because the flagstone beneath my face goes a viscous purple.
Yep, I think. I certainly don’t admire your range of vocabulary. If I hadn’t died so unexpectedly we would have had to work on that. Although being the groom wouldn’t have helped. With the side of your foot you kick my detached arm and Grit’s chainsaw into the slurry.
‘It’s Grit’s fault,’ you say.
‘Mine?’ Grit hisses.
‘The driver,’ Maxine warns you and Grit. ‘The driver’s getting out of his cab.’
You put your arm around Grit’s waist and start to dance, singing, ‘I’m getting married in the morning…’
‘Well, this afternoon, in fact,’ interrupts Maxine to tell the driver. ‘Two pm at the Crucible Hotel, Chipping Sodbury.’
Then you kick me. ‘These dolls are very life like,’ you say.
‘Stag do,’ says your brother.
I think the driver is unconvinced. His boots shuffle next to my downturned head.
‘Need to pick up the suits Grit,’ you say.
‘And the buttonholes,’ says Maxine.
‘Best get her deflated,’ says your brother.
‘All a bit of a joke then is it hey?’ says the driver. ‘Sick if you ask me. Bloody realistic. I ‘m not going to hang around here, it’s disgusting’
Grit’s bare feet intertwine with the van-driver’s dancing him back to his cab singing, ‘He’s getting married in the morning…’ closing the van door.
‘Thanks for the pigs!’ Grit shouts. You all watch the van snake its way back up to Cerney Wick road.
‘Are you the Registrar’s daughter?’ you ask me sitting on the floor beside me. Of course, I can’t say yes.
‘Ring the Hotel,’ says Maxine. ‘Tell the Registrar we’ve got his daughter. Threaten him. Tell him if he wants to see his daughter again he must marry us today.’
‘He won’t be seeing her left arm again,’ says Grit. ‘I’m not going in the slurry to fish it out. Pigs’ll eat it if the mice don’t get it first.’
‘Can you get dressed in time?’ you ask Maxine.
‘Can you?’ she asks.
I think you nod. You certainly kiss.
‘Grit,’ you say, ‘make the call.’
‘No bloody way,’ says Grit handing the phone to you. It’s ringing. The Registrar picks up.
‘I’ve got your daughter,’ you say. We all hear the screams from the other end of the phone. Maxine is walking through the yard. Her hips are swinging to the squeal of the piglets.
‘Good luck,’ Maxine calls to you over her left shoulder, ‘enjoy your life,’ she says, and you are left standing next to my naked body, watching her stroll, you still holding Grit’s phone.