BLOODSHED AND ROSES - RICHARD GODWIN
I could smell lavender not roses when the killing began.
Lucia had been slow dancing him and I stood and watched her curves ride the static air in her flesh tight skirt like a sheet of silk wrapped around her steady beckoning to my mad desire.
From time to time she’d glance at me over his shoulder and her eyes would sparkle with the knowledge of how much men wanted her and how much she could use them.
And so it was as I drank another whisky I realised that I was turned into a killer by desire, that her beauty had invaded me and that I walked in a black world where there was only one way out. I looked around at the sea of faces and in that moment. I knew it. Men were the suckers.
Outside, his roses sprayed perfume into the hot summer air.
‘They love blood, feed them blood and they smell sweet,’ Carlos said.
‘That right?’ I said.
‘Behind beauty lies bloodshed.’
It was the only time I ever spoke to him.
I looked at him and at his empty face and knew at once that despite the extent of his estate she was not his property, that while I had become a sexual thief I was about to turn killer.
I watched him walk back inside.
After another dance, he left her standing there and she looked at me and I crossed the dance floor to her.
‘He’s going up to his office,’ Lucia said.
I leaned in to her and breathed in the essence of female eternity and the old legends about how men got lost searching for their bride entered my head in some explosion of bloodshed and I knew I had to have her and that until I satiated this desire my life would never be all right and I watched in slow motion as she laid her perfect hand on my shoulder and spoke those words into my ear.
‘He is stopping you being with me.’
And in her eyes I saw dance like tiny cruel jewels the knowledge of her power, of how she could use me in this way and I went up the stairs to his office.
I didn’t even have a weapon.
Carlos was there, talking on the phone and was less a man than some cipher in a code I had to crack to reach her.
His words floated aimlessly across the space that lay between us and I looked over at the bar and saw the ice pick and as I got to him he put the receiver down and turned.
There was no surprise or fear in his face as I jammed the pick right into his head, which burst open like a piece of rotten fruit.
And all I could see was her.
A metre of blood shot outwards from him and streaked his polished desk.
He opened his mouth and moved his lips noiselessly, small bubbles of blood foaming there.
I watched him stop moving.
Then I removed the spike from his head, dislodging brain matter that flecked the tidy carpet and went downstairs and washed and found her waiting for me outside amid the smell of roses. But it was her perfume that overpowered the garden as if she had fed on too much blood and I looked at the sheer sheen of her skin and some unearthly odour raised itself from her body and hit me like a drug and drew me towards her and let me taste what she was and let me see how sharp the thorns were.
She said nothing as I drove to her house and there I entered the world of a killer, tasting every contour of what that meant in living flesh. And I knew what power was. And she yielded to me because she could. Because the one who yields holds the key. And I understood that there was more murder in the silent space from which we come than any gun or bar brawl.
I looked into the wasteland of her eyes.
And I tasted lavender again.
Washed into her forever on all the bloodshed that feeds the roses.
BIO: Richard Godwin lives and writes in London, where his dark satire ‘The Cure-All’, about a group of confidence tricksters, has been produced on the stage. He has just finished writing a crime novel.
The Irish Times’ Crime Fiction ‘Best Of’ 2018
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