Monday, 7 November 2011

Days five, six and seven of Off the Rails

Only 1,223 words. Again a poor showing. Just over 5,000 so far with nearly a quarter of the month gone.

Oh well.

Ron Henderson jumped out of bed as the alarm went off. He’d never liked sleeping in: it bred laziness. Suki would spend all day in the pit if he let her. Walking to the shower, he could hear her snoring. Nose job had cost a fortune but snoring was one side effect the surgeon hadn’t mentioned.

He clenched his fists as he got in the shower. Cold water. Clears the body and mind. His face grimacing, he scrubbed himself hard. Not that he was dirty. It was the feeling of dirt. The feeling of yesterday’s grime and skin. It needed washing off. A new day was here, why would he want to wear yesterdays waste?

Shower finished, he walked to the spare room and picked out a clean shirt and trousers. Ironed to a crisp, just how he liked it. That was Mrs Briggins, the cleaner. He wouldn’t let Suki near his silk shirts. Not that she had the time. Always busy. Always busy doing nothing.

Downstairs, he put the kettle on and pushed two slices of bread in the toaster. Wholemeal bread? What the fuck was that about. That was Suki too, forever buying that healthy muck. He’d eat it quickly before the lad arrived. Brown bread would take some explaining.

He headed outside, the dogs needed feeding. They bounded over at his approach, tails wagging. Opening the lean-to shed., he scooped out a pile of dog food and threw half in each bowl. They had their own kennels, luxury things, but he noticed they slept under the willow tree in the summer. They were still young. He imagined it was like a couple of teenagers, camping out. He reckoned they got up to all sorts of scrapes at night. Like a couple of kids, that’s what they were.

Watching them snaffle the food, he looked at Ronnie. Her coat was off colour again, not shining like it should be, nowhere near as glossy as Reggie’s. Maybe the vet needed calling again? She’d always been the poorly one. Anything flying round, she’d catch it. Sometimes he let her sleep inside in winter, but Reggie missed her too much and howled all night.

Back inside he buttered the toast. Fucking half fat margarine. No butter anywhere in the fridge that was full of tofu and skimmed milk and some kind of salad leaf he didn’t know how to pronounce. Fucking Suki again. She’d have him eating bird food before the summer was out.

At the breakfast bar he ate the toast, drank his black coffee and listened to the radio. Markets down again. He reckoned those city folks needed a shot up the arse. They needed something. His shares had taken a hit recently and that twat of a broker was all snivelling and too apologetic whenever he rang. He needed to grow a backbone. Before it was too late.

The noise upstairs told him she was awake. He checked his watch. Seven thirty. Early start. She walked down the stairs and into the kitchen. Towelling white dressing gown, cost over two hundred looked a waste on her. The bags under her eyes led an advance party into the room, squinting at the morning sun. Ron noticed her hair, sticking out at awkward angles like a Mohican.

“I fucky gotta stop drinking,” she said, her words croaked through a dehydrated mouth.

Ron shook his head and poured her a coffee. “You look a state.”

“Don’t fucky start on me, Ron. I’ve had it up to here with you. You slept in spare room again. You no like me anymore?”

He tried to hide his shudder as he handed her the mug. “Drink it. Then get in the shower.”

“While ago you’d have joined me. Remember those days. You remember them?”

Ron remembered those days but they seemed so long ago. Like another life. Suki with her sixty thousand dollar body had been all he wanted a few years ago. He remembered when he’d only have to look at her and he’d feel things he’d never felt before. His eyes would fully open, his stomach would rattle like he’d eaten three vindaloos and his legs would got to jelly. All that money he’d spent to keep her looking young. Now thirty five she still looked twenty when she put her make up on. Drink didn’t suit her. It doubled her age. It ruined the expensive illusion. He couldn’t remember exactly when she’d started, maybe five years ago, but he didn’t understand it. She had everything money could buy. She had the face and body of a supermodel. Yet she drunk. And drunk and drunk and drunk.

He nodded his head. Her eyes bored into him, waiting for an explanation of why those days were over. “Maybe we should go on holiday?” He broke her stare and looked at the clock. Seven thirty five. He wanted her out before the boy arrived. Didn’t do to mix business with pleasure.

“Holiday? Where? Both of us, together?”

“Wherever you want to go.”

“I’ll need new clothes.”

He caught her eyes again. The thought of a holiday had sobered her up almost instantly. His stomach churned slightly as he remembered their last holiday. A cottage for a fortnight in the Lake District. They only ventured out once, and that was for cigarettes.

“I’ll have a shower then go shopping. This better not be a joke, Ron. Are we really going away?”

She let the dressing gown half slip revealing where half the sixty thousand dollars had been spent. He felt nothing as he nodded. Four, maybe even two years ago he’d have run across the room. Now though, nothing. She turned and walked away, the dressing gown falling lower with each step. “I’ll have that shower now.” She turned her head and winked.

Ron washed down the last piece of toast with his coffee, counted to fifty then went outside to his dogs.


The Muesli wasn’t going down well. Rich knew why and it had nothing to do with food. The boss had only seem him alone once. Just once in ten years. He’d risen through the ranks, most of it lucky breaks during the turf wars after the millennium. He shook his head as he remembered those years. So many lives lost so easily. The last time he’d seen the boss was for his promotion. Now his man on the street, Rich visited the customers as the boss liked to call them.

The Range Rover struggled as he slipped round the corner. He knew he was driving too slow, the automatic gearbox obviously thought a vicar had borrowed the car for the day. Whatever was going to happen, being late wouldn’t improve the issue. He wondered again what is was. It had to be something to do with Jimmy. He’d asked the boss pleasantly enough if Jimmy could be spared as he was an old friend. The boss hadn’t seemed too bothered on the phone. As long as he learns a lesson and fucks off, that’d been his reply.

Rich wondered if the cold light of day had made him rethink that decision.

Pulling off the main road, he stopped. He could hear the dogs barking in the distance and imagined them bounding towards the electrically controlled gate. Window down, he pressed the buzzer and waited.

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