SCAR TISSUE - RICHARD GODWIN
Part Two Of A Four Part Saga (part one, THE SKIN ROOM, can be found here)
Mick Fancy had been to prison before he met Maxy.
He’d started his career in armed robbery and found he had a taste for torture. One of his sidekicks beat a till clerk so badly it gave Mick the chance to discover he enjoyed it and, for years, he worked with him, watching as his partner’s tastes for cruelty went through the roof until he was put away for life.
His sadism was vicarious and casual, but nonetheless an addiction.
The first day he sat drinking coffee in Maxy’s kitchen, he watched her get ready for work.
She was putting papers in a case, dressed in a blue business suit, and the professional image rankled in him.
‘You think you’re fooling anybody?’ he said.
‘I’m a businesswoman.’
‘I built my business up fair and square, hard work.’
‘That why you need to get your kicks in the Skin Room?’
She put her bag down and looked at him.
‘I do this for a living. What I do in the other place is to do with my past.’
‘Think it’s normal?’
‘Most people lead separate lives.’
He shook his head.
‘Uh-uh. No, they don’t.’
‘Politicians are caught at it all the time.’
‘Screwing their secretaries, not skinning innocent guys alive.’
‘It’s all part of the same thing.’
Mick stood up and started undoing her blouse.
Maxy tried to pull away, but he squeezed her arm.
‘You still is the same whore I met all those years ago with the same predilections, an’ I know you, I know you, baby, and all your sick ways.’
‘An’ you’re still a pimp with a pimp’s mind.’
‘You can call it what you want, baby, but I get to do this. I get to screw you and stay alive.’
‘Stay alive, Mick, as you say. We need each other.’
He let her go and she did up her blouse.
‘Money,’ he said, holding out a hand.
‘I’ve only got a hundred on me.’
‘Go to a bank and get some more.’
He watched as she drove off in her Mercedes and while she was out he went through every drawer in the house. He found what he was looking for and hid the key in his pocket as he heard her pull up outside.
Maxy came in, handed him the money and left again without saying a word.
Mick found the doorway to the cellar and went down with the only torch in the house.
It was immaculately clean and contained aisles of metal cabinets.
He opened the first drawer and poked the torch in.
Bags made of skin, some of them tiny ornate purses, some large designer handbags, an assortment of them in different styles, shapes and sizes adorned with jewels.
Every cabinet contained an array of them. They were all sealed in plastic, vacuum packed for some future point in time.
When Maxy got back from work, she fixed herself a whisky.
Mick was lying with his boots up on her sofa, drinking a beer, and she resented this male intruder in her sanctuary from her bruised soul and its midnight wanderings. She could smell his sex and hated his male presence there, feeling he was like some tomcat who’d pissed in the doorway.
‘Hard day?’ he said.
‘Nothing I couldn’t handle.’
‘Well, I been doin’ some thinking, Maxy, and I think you should go back to your old line of work.’
‘No way. I don’t do this for money.’
‘What do you do it for? Wealthy woman, like you.’
‘I don’t let them screw me. I let them look.’
‘What they lookin’ at? Those deep scars inside you?’
‘I’m in control of them. I let them see the goods and then I take what’s mine.’
‘Their skin. ’Cause of what he did to you. Makes you feel better, don’t it?’
‘They wanna use me and I use them and I have a part of them to put my things in.’
‘Like he put a part of himself in you.’
‘What do you want, Mick?’
‘I told you.’
‘What do you really want?’
‘Scar tissue never heals. It’s a mark and it warps your personality. People see it, smell vulnerability, the trace of a wound, and they want to fuck with you, open you up. Maybe that’s why you became a whore. Your daddy used you and made you use men. I ain’t got no problem with that.’
She slammed her glass down on the table, spilling whisky.
‘You know what he did. Why are you tormenting me with it?’
‘He fucked you and made you watch him hurt your sister over and over again until she was covered in scars and you thought you was the chosen one because you had perfect skin. But then he told you about the need for sacrifice, didn’t he? He told you about that because your family are all flawed, deeply sick people who believe this shit. Your old man thought by screwing his daughters he was keeping the gods away from his soul and you bought into it. Your sister died covered in scars and you got the perfect skin. But you need to take these men’s skins to still the resident demons in your mind. How are the nightmares, Maxy? I heard you scream last night.’
‘I wish I’d killed him.’
‘That’s right. You wish you’d killed him, but you didn’t. Now you need to punish all these guys who’d use a woman like an ashtray for their come.’
‘An’ you get your kicks watching this.’
‘I been reading some psychology inside, Maxy. Did you know there’s no such thing as a pure sadist? They’re all a mix of sadism and masochism.’
‘Oh really? An’ you’re not a sadist!’
‘I’m a sadist and you’re acting out your trauma in such a perverted way as to be beyond the reach of normal pathology. They’d lock you away forever.’
‘That first time you watched I knew it turned you on.’
‘What do you want?’
‘Then watch me skin them.’
‘I want more than that. I want you to get into the country club.’
‘There’s a country club up the road. You know the types, motherfuckers whose wives lay back an’ take their come. They wear French perfume to hide the stain on their souls, an’ they think they’re better’n you. But they’re not. Love don’t exist there, though it’s a common bargaining tool for their acquisitions. You’s wealthy now, you go in as a respectable businesswoman and you start turning them over with their money and I get to screw their wives.’
‘They don’t let people like me join them.’
‘Find a way.’
‘Find a way.’
There was some shadow on his face, some precognition of what he was capable of, and the enjoyment of that sense of dormant power was endless and quietly menacing. It was as if the extent to which he was unfazed by Maxy’s torture of men was in equal balance with the darkness of his own demons which he had effectively harnessed to his will.
‘I’m not going there as me,’ she said.
‘You think that’s you?’ Mick pulled her jacket off and threw it on the floor. ‘You’s a whore done good. You’s a whore who’s sick in the head and a killer, a serial killer. The cops don’t have a clue who they’re looking for. I’m the one who knows it all, so you better deliver what I want. Why did you think I didn’t tell em when they arrested me?’
‘Because they arrested you for shooting that guy.’
‘He was onto you.’
‘You did it for yourself, too.’
‘We’s in this together. Now I’m out.’
‘Only because he’s not dead.’
‘Good thing he’s in a coma, huh? He won’t be talking.’
‘So what do you want, Mick?’
‘I want you to start with the wealthy and the famous. I’ll be there and we’ll get their skin and their money. Imagine what that pampered flesh will feel like narrowed to the bone. All those open wounds. Remind you of something, baby? Still wear the bags, Maxy?’
‘Alone at night, in this house where no man ever comes, summoning Daddy’s ghost from that black coffin in your soul? Walk around naked with a bag on your arm, admiring your perfect skin in the dark, crying for your Daddy?’
‘Their wives won’t screw you.’
‘You better fix that part up.’
She paused for a moment in which the air and silence between them in the empty room seemed to stretch like a piece of wire.
‘You’ll have to find a way to the wives,’ she said. ‘I’ll arrange it so they’re home. How hard is rape?’
‘You just join the country club.’
‘I need to go to the flat and get some things.’
‘I’m coming with you.’
Maxy changed into some pants and a sweatshirt over which she placed a mac and she drove to the car park near some derelict flats where her other car was garaged.
‘Old Buick,’ Mick said. ‘Why’d you pick that?’
‘’Cause it’s something I’d never drive.’
‘You do know it’s you doing it?’
‘But it ain’t, Mick.’
‘It’s you. You’ve constructed a self that does it, but it’s all you.’
‘Let’s go to the flat.’
‘And get their skin.’
‘’Cause without skin they can’t rape you, that right?’
‘No one rapes me.’
‘They deserve to be peeled.’
‘An’ your skin is perfect.’
‘I need to get some things.’
‘And clear up the evidence. You killed them and you don’t want any evidence laying around.’
There was a noise at the far end of the vacant car park.
It sounded like a metal can rolling along the ground and came from behind the only other car there.
Mick was over there before Maxy had identified what it was she’d heard. He found the man crouching behind some trash cans. He pulled him up by the collar, set his gun next to his head and blew his brains against the wall.
Maxy heard it and ran over.
She looked down at the blood and said, ‘What the fuck you done?’
‘Got rid of a witness.’
‘We gotta get out of here.’
‘Anyone know you here?’
‘Any way they could trace you?’
‘Start the car up, bring it round, we put him in the boot and get rid of the body.’
She did as she was told and they drove to the flat.
Parking in the back alley, they went in and Maxy got her bags.
She placed these inside plastic sheets, which she removed from a cupboard.
‘You paid the rent on this place?’
‘Keep paying. Tomorrow, we clean it up.’
‘What about the body?’
‘I’ll burn the car.’
They went to the alley and he drove them away.
He pulled into a side road and hotwired a car and Maxy followed him to a landfill site, where he stopped and got out of the car.
‘Friend of mine owns this place,’ he said.
He got in the Buick and drove it through the gap in the fence at the back. He found the petroleum barrels and set fire to the car.
Maxy drove home and she went in and put her bags away as Mick waited a few blocks away in the stolen car.
It was now the early hours of the morning.
She followed him downtown where he dumped the car and then she drove them home.
Back at the house, Mick poured the whiskies.
‘So what now?’ she said.
‘We start the country club killings.’
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. His writing appears regularly at Disenthralled and Gloom Cupboard, among many other magazines. He has a Twitter account and can be found there under the User Name Stanzazone. You can check out his portfolio here. His first crime novel will be published later this year.
His blog, RICHARD GODWIN, is the home of the Chin Wag At The Slaughterhouse Interviews (which, in this editor’s opinion, deserve as many awards as can be heaped upon them).