An Easy Kill

Have you ever wondered what goes though the mind of a man who is capable of taking the life of another human being; somebody innocent, old and frail. Have you ever wondered why or how they think or perhaps feel afterwards? If you have, then meet Ryan Webber and Craig Palmer.

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2. An Easy Kill

 

An Easy Kill

 

The old man lay awkwardly on the floor just a few inches away from me. His wide, aging eyes gazed up at me still surprised. I’d done it. I’d finally done it. After years of fantasising about it I had actually killed someone; and it had been much quicker than I’d expected.

Ryan was sat on the sofa and had his feet firmly planted on a long, dark oak coffee table next to a pile of glossy magazines. “See, I told you it was easy, didn’t I?” He gave me that all-knowing grin whilst he said it.

But he was right. It had been easy; too easy. Somehow I’d imagined killing someone to be more, well, dramatic. I wanted it to be more intense, more everything. But it wasn’t.

I let the hammer clump to the floor. Maybe I should have choked him or tried a different way to do it, but it was too late for that now.

“What about the mess?”

“Don’t bother about that, watch.” He picked up a coffee coaster and licked it then threw it across the room towards a tall, wide bookcase stacked with old books. He then spat on the chair next to him and then jabbed his thumb on the cover of a glossy magazine. “See, lots of finger prints and DNA all over the place, but they won’t find anything because do you know why?”

I shook my head.

“Because we’re going to torch the place, that’s why. Let’s see if PC plod can pick the bones out of that.” He spat a second time, this time on the plush, burgundy carpet. “And anyway, it’ll give them something to sing and dance about for a while. Nothing ever happened around here. But it has now, hasn’t it? They’ll probably think he died of a vitamin overdose or something before somebody notices the holes you made in his head. It’ll also give that shitty rag of a newspaper something to write about as well. Have you seen the crap they print? I swear to god there’s more news in the Beano than there is in that thing.”

Ryan was good at stating his opinion about everything. That was one of the very few things he was good at. Ranting and raving. It was simple. If Ryan didn’t think something was right then you could guarantee that he’d spend the next few days making sure everyone knew about it. It was either Ryan’s way or no way at all. You either liked him, or you didn’t. You either wanted him as your best friend, or you wanted to cave his head in just as I had with the old man.

“What do we do now?” I asked. I realised that I was still stood in the same spot where I’d been standing when I delivered the second blow.

“Whatever we want?” he replied. “May as well make use of the house whilst it’s ours and help ourselves to free food and drink for a while. He’s dead. It’s no use to him anymore, is it?”

Ryan got up off the sofa and made his way into the kitchen.

I guess he was right in a morbid sort of way. The house was ours for a while and everything in it kind of belonged to us now. But I still wasn’t feeling it. No matter how hard I looked at the lifeless body, I just didn’t feel what I thought I would. It was different somehow. I just didn’t get it. The visions I had were full of intense excitement which I found hard to describe even to myself. I had notebooks and jotters full of the things I wanted to do and how it should look and feel. I wanted to feel good, different or indestructible even. I wanted it to mean something to me like it was the beginning of an incredible journey in to the unknown; but I felt none of that. I only felt like I had been cheated in someway.

Maybe if I knew who he was.

When I entered the kitchen Ryan had emptied most of the cupboards above the cooker. “Look. We got tinned tomatoes, soup, macaroni cheese, meatballs in gravy. There’s a whole stack of stuff in here. There’s enough to keep us going for weeks.” He then opened both the fridge and freezer doors. “And look at this lot. We got pork chops. We got frozen sausages, pizza, ice cream. We got all sorts of stuff here. It’s like a goddamn mini supermarket. I mean look, they even got my all-time favourites.” He held up a large bag of frozen chicken dippers coated in golden bread crumbs. “It’s fantastic, don’t you think?”

Ryan was like a big kid in a sweet shop. He’d already eaten an entire family sized bag of bacon flavoured crisps and had just opened a packet of chocolate chipped biscuits. He wasn’t at all bothered about the old man whose life we’d just stolen. To him, it wasn’t about feeling it, but about what he could get from it.

“His name was Gerald Harper if you’re interested.” I told him and held up a tattered pension book that I’d found in one of the drawers in the living room. Ryan pushed a biscuit in to his mouth and gave me a quick glance. He didn’t even bother to look at the book.

“No, not really.” He replied, his voice muffled and allowing crumbs to fall out of his mouth. “Doesn’t really make any difference who he is, was or whatever. He could have been born a woman for all I care. These biscuits are still mine and so are the chicken dippers along with everything else in this house.” He pushed another biscuit greedily into his mouth. “Like I said, he’s dead now. What does anything matter?” He threw me a box of six, cheap supermarket cupcakes. “Here, go wild. Enjoy yourself. You stepped over the line the second you buried chunks of that old man’s skull in to his brain with that hammer you took from your dad’s tool box. There’s no going back now so you better learn to take what life has to offer from now on, because if you don’t, then you may as well be lying where he is.”

He was right, I had crossed the line. I’d gone from being plain old Craig Palmer to a cold blooded killer in less than seven seconds.

“Alright then,” I said to him and tossed the box of cakes on to the side. “But I want better than a box of stale cupcakes for dinner.”

With excitement, Ryan drop kicked the now half eaten packet of biscuits which exploded in to a million pieces covering most the floor and work tops with tiny brown crumbs and shattered chocolate chips. “That’s my boy,” he yelped whilst clenching his fist and launching it in to the air almost like he’d scored a last minute goal. “I knew you’d be ok. Now let’s get this party started and see what’s for dinner shall we?” He went right back to being the kid in a sweet shop again. “You look in that cupboard over there above the table. I haven’t done that one yet. I’ll look in the ones down here.”

For dinner, Ryan had two pork chops, a stack of cheese flavoured Pringles and a whole tin of peach slices, all on the same plate. If there was ever a children’s meal with a grown-ups edge to it then that was it.

“That was some good food we cooked there, buddy,” he said then slipped the last peach slice in to his mouth. “I never used to get food like that when I lived back at home. It was all mashed potatoes and vegetables and all that other sensible eating lark. A person should eat what they feel like eating, don’t you think so?”

“I guess so.” I told him. “Do you want to put some music on?”

“Can do, but you won’t find any Exodus or Machine Head in that collection. I doubt you’ll find anything worth listening to in this place? It’ll be all that Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin Rat Pack stuff judging by the looks of him. Let’s go and take a look around upstairs instead. We might find some money stashed away somewhere if we’re lucky, or maybe even some jewellery worth selling.”

Ryan got up from the table first and took another packet of biscuits from the cupboard, this time bourbon creams. “This is the life? Take what you want and eat what you want.” I took a look at the rest of the food Ryan had lifted out on to the work tops and took a box of custard tarts. “That would have been my second choice,” he said grinning.

Whilst we were walking up stairs, I asked him how long he thought we should stay in the house. “Don’t know,” he said. Again his voice was mildly distorted with the crunching of biscuit. “I suppose until we either get fed up or the food runs out. There are a few cans of beer at the back of the fridge. We can sit and drink them later on and decide what we are going to do then if you want. Maybe watch a bit of television if you fancy it.”

The plan sounded good even though it was far from being perfect. We’d picked the house mainly because of its location with the nearest house being a good few hundred yards further down the road. And with the rear of the house overlooking a large field, nobody would have heard Gerald Harper beg for his life after the first time I hit him. Nobody would have heard the gut wrenching pop his skull made when the first swing of the hammer collided against it. And nobody would have heard Ryan laughing at the old man gasping for his last breath. It was a good choice of location for what was going to be the first of many.

At the top of the stairs there was a more than adequate landing area with four large doors, each with the space for another between. Ryan was in awe. “Man, take a look at this place would you. It’s huge.” He stood in the middle of the landing with his arms raised up high. “I can’t even come close to touching the ceiling. It must be ten or eleven feet tall, and look at those lights.” The doors were pure oak just like the coffee table and looked every bit as regal as the rest of the house. “Pick a door?” He said. “Any door you want.”

I looked at each door for no longer than a second or two. Any one of the doors could lead to the master bedroom. “That one,” I said, pointing to the second one along.

“Final choice?”

“Yes.”

“Ok then. Let’s see what you’ve won today then, Mr Craig Palmer from God knows where in way down shitsville.” Ryan slammed the flat of his boot against the oak door causing it to swing open wildly. A look of awe came over his face again as he cautiously entered what could only be the master bedroom. “Look at this place. I bet the queen’s bedroom isn’t as big as this, or as posh.”

It wasn’t very often that I found myself agreeing with him but this time I had to. The room was stunning. It was probably nowhere near as big as the queen’s or as posh for that matter, but it was pretty up-market all the same.

Ryan went across the room touching every piece of furniture he passed. It was almost like he’d never seen bedroom furniture before. He ran his hand in a surprisingly caring manner over the top of one of the dressers as if he were checking for dust. “We’ve hit the jackpot here, Craig. I mean look at all this stuff. It must be worth a small fortune. It’s even better than the stuff down stairs. He’s bound to have some money stashed around here somewhere, right?”

“Yeah, I guess so.”  I replied. The room was so much bigger than I’d ever expected. There were three French double door wardrobes running almost the entire length of the back wall, each stained a pale cream and nearly as tall as the room itself. A large king sized bed dominated the room with tall, elegantly carved wooden corner posts.

Ryan took two steps back until his back was almost against the middle wardrobe. “Watch me,” he called and suddenly ran forwards, launching himself between the bottom posts and on to the bed. The plush cotton covered duvet seemed to swallow his whole body in a sea of dazzling white. “Man, this bed’s comfy. I could spend my whole life in here.” He’d suddenly gone from being the greedy kid in the sweet shop to the big kid in the playground. “Come on, jump on. It’s great fun.”

I started laughing as he stood up and began using the bed as a trampoline. The carved corner posts juddered and leant slightly towards him each time he jumped. “You’re missing out,” he said at the same time as reaching for the ceiling. He then kicked a large pink, decorative scatter cushion towards me which I only just managed to catch with both hands. “You’re good,” He said, jumping even higher almost to the point where his head touched the ceiling. He kicked another cushion towards me which narrowly missed my head and knocked a framed print of Picasso’s, the Leaning Harlequin, off the wall behind me instead. “Bingo!” He said and laughing. “You’re almost as boring as that old man, and he’s dead.”

Ryan’s words came as a sharp reminder about what had taken place earlier and why we were actually here. We weren’t just your run of the mill teenagers anymore. We were killers; Murderers; Modern day highway men. We’d taken a man’s life and now we were abusing his possessions purely for our own amusement. We’d become members of an elite and sinister group of socially inept people who were hated and feared, even amongst our own kind.

I told Ryan to stop and to get off the bed. I knew that he could tell by the sudden change in tone that I wasn’t joking but he still ignored me. “Just a couple more.” He said, about to thrust himself in to the air. “I want to see if I can touch the ceiling with my tongue.”

“Now, Ryan.”

He flopped onto his back before rolling off the far side of the bed and on to his feet almost the way I’d seen gymnasts do on the television. “Happy now are we?”

“No,” I replied, tossing the cushion back onto the bed. “I’m not.”

“Why, what is it with you, man? We’ve got it all here. We’ve got free heat, free food, a free place to stay. What more do you want?”

“But how long have we got it for, Ryan? How long before someone realises he’s not around anymore? How long before someone comes knocking? And anyway, this isn’t how it’s supposed to be, is it?

“I don’t know, Craig. You tell me? You’re the one with ideas on how it’s supposed to be, not me. I just do what I do and then I take what I can. It’s simple. I even told you before we came in here to keep it simple and not complicate things. If you try too hard to do things a certain way then sooner or later you’ll mess up.”

He was kind of right in his own, moronic sort of way. To someone like Ryan, killing someone meant nothing. You just got on with it and then took whatever you wanted. But for me it was different. I wanted more from it than just a quick kill and then get lucky if there was decent food in the house. I wanted to feel I’d done something different; something special. I wanted each kill to be unique in its own special way.

Ryan was careful not to walk too close to the window as he moved away from the bed and headed towards the bank of wardrobes. “Ok then. Let’s see what we can find. You look under the bed and inside the drawers and things and I’ll search these wardrobes. My old gran used to keep an old coffee jar full of coins in the bottom of her wardrobe. Every time I went to visit her I used to sneak into her bedroom and take some out and spend it at the local sweet shop. No matter how much money she put in she could never figure out why it never reached the top. Maybe this old dude does the same, but with notes.”

“You’ll be lucky,” I told him. I pulled out the top drawer from the bedside cabinet and tipped its contents on to the bed, spreading them thinly with a single sweep of my hand. “People like this don’t keep money lying around in tins or jars or old shoe boxes. They keep it in banks or have it tied up in stocks and shares and things like that so people like us can’t come along and steal it.” I held up a bunch of bank and cash machine receipts and waved them at him. “See, - look.”

He turned briefly. “Maybe not, but we can sure as hell take their chicken dippers and chocolate biscuits though!”

Ryan’s comment put a smile back on my face. Yeah, sure, we can take their chicken dippers alright, and their biscuits and their custard tarts. But we also take their life too.

It took him less than a minute to completely empty the first wardrobe, piling everything in an untidy heap next to the window. It had been full of Gerald Harper clothes. Two neat rows of polished shoes at the bottom were all that remained. “Damn it.” I looked over to see Ryan tearing a front pocket off a dark blue, single breasted jacket before tossing it on the floor. “Why does a man need so many clothes if he’s not going to keep some money in at least one of the pockets?”

“I don’t know,” I replied. “But keep looking. We’ve got a lot to go through judging by the looks of it.”

He kicked at the pile of clothes before turning his attention to the middle wardrobe and then gasped as he opened both doors.  “Look, the dudes still got his dead wife’s clothes in here.” He pulled out a pale pink, low neck top with matching cardigan and held it against chest. “My old gran had one like this. I wonder why he’s kept all this stuff.”  After dropping the twin set onto the floor he reached back in and pulled out a long red sequined dress and again held it against himself, this time swaying his hips a little. “Look, I’m that singer, Shirley Bassey!” He hummed a tune that I barely recognised. “I bet he wears this before he goes to bed.”

If there was one thing I could guarantee from Ryan was that he made me laugh. He said the most stupid and craziest of things sometimes. And the fact that he actually knew who Shirley Bassey was completely amazed me.

“Suits you better though,” I replied. Ryan gave me one of his special looks when he didn’t quite know how to answer somebody back. He then dropped the dress and continued to lift out an arm full of Gerald Harper’s wife’s clothes and dumped them on top of it. He then pulled down the zip on his jeans and urinated over her clothing.

“Don’t think it’ll suit me now, do you?” He was laughing, directing his urine in a wide arc back and forth across the mound of clothing. I wanted to ask him what he was thinking, but I decided that I didn’t really want to know. I knew Ryan was warped but I wasn’t expecting that.

I waited for him to stop. “Feel better now you’ve proved a point?”

Ryan shook then fastened his zip. “Yeah, I do. I needed to make room for that beer sometime or other.” He took another load of clothes and piled them on top. “There, you can’t even smell it now, not that it matters.”

At the back of my head, I knew that if we were ever going to get caught then Ryan would be the reason why. He was not only thoughtless but he was reckless too. But what would really do it was the fact that he didn’t give a damn. I thought back to the countless notes and drawings I had made whilst waiting for my shift to end at Dalton’s warehouse on Banbury Lane. Not once did I see myself rummaging through dead peoples clothes and having to put up with someone like Ryan urinating all over the place. I had lists on how I wanted to do things and how it should look and I’d even described the sounds I wanted people to make. I had hundreds of drawings showing how I’d get up close and personal with them, not coming up behind them with a hammer like Ryan had told me to do.

It was all going terribly wrong.

Ryan was now on his knees and was tossing the dead woman’s shoes over his shoulders and onto the bed. There were dozens and dozens of them. It was a bit like watching a migration of different coloured shoes fly across the room. “What are you doing?” I asked him.”

“There’s a whole shoe shop in here,” He replied, leaning further inside until the top half of him was no longer visible. It looked like the wardrobe was trying to swallow him whole. “There’s got to be something in one of these shoe boxes besides shoes.” A pair of red, leather sling backs flew across the room. “Shit, there’s even more in the corner. It’s never ending. I think they must be breeding in here or something?”

I told him to leave them, but either he didn’t hear me, or chose not to. Another pair, this time black sensible lace ups, shot towards the headboard. The bedroom was a total mess and looked like someone had tipped it upside down and then back the right way up again. Ryan finally came out, his darkish brown hair slightly dishevelled around his ears.

“Did you say something?” He asked whilst flattening one side of his hair.

“No, doesn’t matter. But I think we need to go and crack open some of that beer and figure out what we do next. You know, where we go to next and so on.”

Ryan clambered to his feet. He was just about to throw a single shoe across the room when suddenly he froze like a toy robot that had suddenly run out of juice.

“What…?”

“Quiet.” He said, putting his finger against his lips.

We both heard the front door click shut followed by the sound of heeled shoes walking across the laminated hallway floor towards the kitchen. A cold panic gripped my stomach and for the first time I actually felt scared. Surely it wasn’t over. It couldn’t be.

Whoever it was had stopped moving and there was an uneasy moment of silence. Then, and at the top of her voice. “Oh – my - God!”

Ryan let go of the shoe as if it had suddenly become burning hot and without hesitation he shot past me like a greyhound out of an open trap and ran down the stairs. Suddenly I felt scared to the point where I thought I was going to be physically sick. I heard the woman’s sickening scream again which quickly became muffled and distorted. There was a loud and heavy thud like someone had fallen hard onto a concrete floor. Then it all went quiet.

I walked out onto the landing and peered over the banister and listened. I heard Ryan cough, clearing his throat. I could hear no sound from the woman.

“Hey,” he shouted, “come and see this?”  The large hallway caused his voice to sound distant like he was in another house. I felt nervous, but at the same time I felt a surge of excitement growing inside me. When I entered the kitchen, I saw that Ryan was sitting on top of a slender looking woman. He had her pinned face down against the kitchen floor and was pressing her face so hard against the cold, tiled floor that the tip of her nose was almost touching her right cheek. There were wide smears of blood which spread out from beneath her head like a child’s, messy finger painting. Her eyes were tearful, although she wasn’t quite crying and I could see bruising beneath her eye. She looked very uncomfortable and was murmuring quietly to herself, as if she were praying for her life.

“Look, we got ourselves a nice little bonus. We got two for the price of one here.” He had both of her arms wedged beneath his legs so they were pinned tightly against the sides of her body and seemed to amuse him each time she struggled to try and free them. “You’re not dead after all, are you, Mrs Palmer? You tried creeping up on us, didn’t you?” The woman winced and let out a sharp yelp as Ryan swung his fist in to her face causing her head to jolt severely towards her left shoulder. He waited a moment and then hit her again but this time harder. It was almost like the first one hadn’t counted for anything. Then, already bloodied from the gash on her swollen bottom lip, lifted his fist again.

“Wait.” I said to him in a louder voice than I intended. He seemed to freeze in mid air, just starring at me. “What’s the point? I mean- Just look at her?”

The woman was elderly, probably in her late sixties and weighed less than a hundred pounds or so and had been no match for someone like Ryan. Her grey, blood streaked hair had fallen forwards and stuck to the side of her face. She was barefoot, having lost both her shoes in the brief but violent struggle, but was still kicking with what little strength she had. Ryan did little more than grin as he felt the dry, cracked and bony heels barely touch the shirt on his back.

“Ok then, what now?” He asked, gradually lowering his fist. “You want some fun with her?”

I took few steps closer and looked down at her. Her dull, shoulder length hair reminded me of my own grandmother who had died two months earlier. Cotton candy hair I used to call it. She was smartly dressed in a crisp, white but now blood stained blouse with a grey knee length skirt. Her broken necklace lay several inches away from her face.

“No, I don’t know yet,” I replied. I was unsure; scared even. This wasn’t what I wanted. It was supposed to be different. Ryan had taken over and was ruining things the same as he always did.

Ryan suddenly grabbed a fist full of her hair and pulled back on it, forcing her to lift her face and chest several inches away from the floor. He held her there, poised in mid air like a carved, frail figurehead on the prow of a ship whilst a long wisp of breath escaped from her lungs. He then slipped his other hand down the front of her blouse and grabbed carelessly at her breast causing her to squeal in a terrified, child like way.

I lunged forwards but then hesitated. “Christ, Ryan! What are you doing?”

The woman closed her eyes and took in a sharp, shuddered breath as if she was bracing herself.

“What does it look like I’m doing?” He looked momentarily towards the ceiling, still feeling. “Not bad,” he commented. “Not bad at all for someone her age; quite firm actually.”

“This isn’t what we came here to do”.

“Relax will you?” He leaned closer to her, as if he was smelling the scent of her clothing. “You can have your turn with her soon, but I saw her first. I get first go with her.”

I saw how the woman’s eyes had become wide and terrified and were almost disbelieving. She had no idea that her husband, her trusted knight in shining armour, lay dead in the next room.

Ryan removed his hand from inside her blouse and looked at his palm, almost expecting to find some kind of unpleasant stain there. He then stood up, relaxing his grip and allowing her to take a deep and much needed gasp of air. He let go of her hair for a moment whilst he stretched out his fingers.

“What are you going to do now?” I asked him.

“I’m not sure.” He replied. He leant towards her and took hold of the same clump of hair that was still sticking out from her scalp. The woman panicked and quickly cupped her hands over Ryan’s in a bid to take some of the strain as he began dragging her towards me like an old sack of worthless rags.

“There’s only one thing I can do, or at least want to do?” He said as he made his way passed me. “We could both be locked up for the rest of our lives this time tomorrow. We may as well get it whilst we can.”

“Surely you’re not serious?”

“Yes, I’m deadly serious, mate. Doesn’t matter to me how old they are or what they look like, they all have the same functions.”

The old woman suddenly kicked out, her right foot only just missing me. She continued kicking and swinging her legs wildly all the way in to the hall way. Ryan stopped suddenly and turned on her, slapping her hard across the face and causing her to yelp out loudly. It was like watching a fully grown Rottweiler turn on a helpless puppy. I began feeling sorry for her and had the distinct feeling that deep down she knew what Ryan was intending to do to her. She glanced at me, almost as if she was hoping I would intervene and stop him.

Ryan twisted his fist and tightened his grip on her hair. He then lowered himself towards her until the tips of their noses were almost touching. “Listen, you old piece of shit.” His voice had become harsh and for a moment I barely recognised it. “Keep trying to kick me and I’ll stamp on the back of your knees until I hear them both crack like rotten bits of wood, understand?” Mrs, Palmer looked up at him with big, pitiful and bloodshot eyes. They were full of dread. She took a sharp breath of air in through her nose and then nodded as best she could, “Now stand up,”

The woman did as she was told and gradually climbed to her feet. She was shaking almost uncontrollably. I watched as she struggled to keep her balance and was aided only by the tight grip Ryan had on her hair. It was like watching something out of circus freak show, with Ryan seemingly enjoying each and every second of it.

“That’s better.” He said, sneering in a way that could only be described as hateful. He had the same sneer that an out of control Rottweiler might have before it was about to attack. Then, and to our surprise, Mrs, Palmer spoke properly for the first time.

“Please, I beg of you, please don’t hurt me, please?” Her voice was weak and sounded dry, like the inside of her mouth had been coated with a fine layer of dust. I felt a mild twinge of pity for her, but it wasn’t enough for me to want to stop what was happening. There was no going back now. No matter what Ryan had in that hateful mind of his.

Val Palmer stood as still as she possibly could. She felt a terrible feeling of dread welling up inside her and knew that any wrong or sudden movement could send the man into a terrible rage again. “I’ll do anything you want. Take anything you want, but please don’t hurt me anymore?” She then swallowed, finding it difficult to do so.

Ryan paused and he seemed to listen to her for a moment. Seconds crawled past, but to Mrs, Palmer they must have seemed like long, torturous hours.

“Go easy on her, Ryan?” I said to him. “Can’t you see that she’s on the verge of having a heart attack? Then you’ll have nothing.”

 Ryan glared at me like he hated me. “Why are you here, Craig?  Tell me what are you actually doing here?”

I couldn’t answer him. I couldn’t answer him because I didn’t know why I was here. I was so sure when we left Ryan’s house about what I wanted from all this.

“All right then.” He said suddenly. “I’ll go easy, if that’s what you both want?”

“Okay, that’s good.” I replied, swallowing and finding it almost as difficult to do so. “We’ll both take things easy from now on. There’s no point in all this ending any sooner than it needs to.”

To my amazement Ryan seemed to agree with me and responded by nodding his head, even though it was barely noticeable. There was no more I could say. He was either going to keep that temper of his under control, or he wasn’t. Either way, the fate of the old woman’s was as good as sealed; she’d soon be joining her husband.

A tear rolled down her cheek as Ryan turned her and led her towards the stair case. She began crying, sobbing almost uncontrollably. I did little more than watch as he led her across the landing and into the master bedroom and I wondered for a moment about the smell of urine. But what did it matter? She had a much bigger problem than a pile of soiled clothing to worry about. How the next few minutes of her life panned out was purely down to her own levels of acceptance, or Ryan’s ability to hold on to his vile temper.

I waited until Ryan had closed the door behind them before I made my way in to the living room. Gerald Palmer was still lying behind the couch. He still had that pleading look in his wide open eyes, but this time perhaps it was for his wife. Maybe the old man was still here and had been watching us raid his kitchen cupboards and tear the lining from his best, Sunday suits. Perhaps he was up there now and watching Ryan do terrible things to his wife; things that a man such as Gerald would never have seen or even heard of before.

There was a loud, heavy thud from the room above. It was enough to cause the long light fitting with the candle shaped bulbs to flicker, for the briefest of moments. I could here Ryan’s voice growling, telling her to keep still. She was crying, but louder this time. It had an air of panic to it and desperation. There was a sharp slapping sound which was far too hard to allow a frail woman like Val Palmer to remain conscious.

It was now quiet, apart from the unsteady creaking of the four poster bed. I glanced down at the hammer and then back up towards the ceiling.

This had to end.

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