THE MAGIC HOUR - PAUL BRAZILL
Marty Cook sat on the edge of his four-post Victorian style bed, beside his sleeping wife, Veronica, illuminated only by the glow from his mobile phone and thinking of ways to kill Doctor Phil.
In the most recent scenario, he had pushed a sawn-off shotgun up the good doctor’s rectum and said, Now this is what I call the blame game, before giving him the enema of all enemas.
Less than a month earlier, Marty had barely known who Doctor Phil was but then it all went pear-shaped when Veronica slipped on a pool of puke at the nightclub that they owned, came a cropper and broke her ankle.
Hence, her stuck at home all day convalescing or recuperating or something and getting brainwashed by all the self-help crap on daytime TV. Oprah Winfrey, Ricky Lake - just like in song.
If he was honest, he didn’t mind most of it until she started to blather on about him finding a work/life balance and how Doctor Phil said that there was a high burn-out rate for urban professional couples - whatever they were - unless they found a magic hour each week for some quality time.
As per usual, he just nodded like one of the toy dogs his dad used to have in the back of his old Ford Fiesta but she didn’t let up and it had started doing his napper in no end.
Beavis & Buthead began the elongated chuckle which signaled that he had a text message. As he expected, it was from Uncle Frank and the message was typically uncomplicated: CLEANING JOB, followed by an address in Shoreditch.
Veronica woke up and propped herself up on her elbow, her long black hair as wild as the wind.
‘Well,’ she said, yawning.
‘No peace for the wicked,’ said Marty. ‘Won’t be long.’
Veronica raised an eyebrow like Mr Spock.
‘Work/life balance, Marty,’ she said as he headed downstairs, picking up his .12 gauge shotgun on the way.
Yeah, like a work/life balance will pay for this lot, he thought, gazing up at his six bedroom mock Tudor home before getting into his Bentley.
The cleaning job was at Ye Olde Axe, one of the many striptease pubs that Uncle Frank owned in the area ironically named the Shoreditch Triangle. Marty walked in out of the rain to see the ruddy face of Uncle Frank as he stood smoking a cigar looking down at a decapitated corpse, its blood looking brown and shitty in the pub lights.
‘Foul night, Frank,’ said Marty, shaking the rain from his black umbrella.
‘It’s the night that the Lord saw fit to grant us,’ said Frank with a scowl.
Between Frank and his priest brother Tim, Marty sometimes felt like he was in a Mel Gibson film.
‘Fancy a gargle?’ said Frank.
Marty looked at the constellation of glimmering booze bottles behind the bar and then thought of Veronica.
‘Best not,’ he said.
Quick as a flash, Marty wrapped up the body in tarpaulin and dumped it in the boot of his car. He put the head in a Safeways bag and then put it on the passenger seat. He didn’t ask Frank what had happened. He never did.
He imagined getting a fair amount of verbal GBH from Veronica if he was too long so he quickly drove over to the Canning Town scrap yard and left the body with Anarchy Al, a bedraggled and permanently stoned relic of the sixties.
He was back home within an hour of leaving and was just about to get out of the car when he saw the head. Bollocks, he thought. More fucking haste less speed.
Now, he didn’t want to take the head into the house because if Veronica saw it all hell would break loose. So what the fuck to do?
Veronica was watching Big Brother on TV downstairs when he got in and he’d almost sneaked in without her seeing him when she turned and asked him what he had in his hand.
Marty held up the bowling bag and, grinning, said, ‘Hey, I thought we’d start to go bowling together again, when you get up and about, and then we can use our ‘magic hour’ for some quality time together.’
Veronica grinned and turned back to the TV. Marty was as pleased as punch that she hadn’t seen the blood dripping from the bag before he managed to shove it in the cupboard. He knew she’d lose the plot if she thought he was taking work home with him.
BIO: Paul Brazill was born in Hartlepool, England a town famous for hanging a monkey, and is now on the lam in Bydgoszcz, Poland (South of Hel). He has had stories in Powder Burn Flash, Six Sentences and Flashshots, as well as the collection 6S2V. He can be found stalking at ‘You would say that, wouldn’t you?’.
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