THE BALLAD OF THE KID - PAUL D. BRAZILL
Originally published at Thrillers, Killer n Chillers in 2009 and included in the anthology Flash! Published by Static Movement
The sun was melting the tar-coloured night into morning as we reached the top of the hill. The Kid sat down against the windmill cradling the dying Dog in his arms. I looked out across the fields towards the beach where smoke rose from the burning car. Sirens screamed in the distance, melding with the sound of the seagulls.
The Kid was sobbing and whispering to Dog. I’d spent the last thirty minutes trying to convince him to leave Dog and come with me but it had been futile, like wading through molasses.
‘The police will be looking for us soon,’ I said. ‘You know what will happen if they catch us.’
The Kid nodded, sniffing. I’d never seen him cry before. Not when we killed The Statistics and not even when his parents were burned alive.
I flashed back to two years ago. The emergency services were attending a blaze at a tower block. I’d parked my car and gone to take a look, along with the other rubber neckers. The air was thick with smoke, panic and excitement. I took out my camera and snapped away. Near me, beside a vandalised post box, looking like a chimney sweep and holding a can of petrol, was a lanky doe-eyed boy of about ten. Beside him was a black mongrel. I took a bag of peanuts from my pocket and crouched down. The dog yelped and came up to me and started eating them.
‘Dog likes you,’ said The Kid. He stunk of smoke and petrol.
I knelt down and stroked the dog.
‘He doesn’t like everyone,’ The Kid said, his eyes drawn toward the burning building. ‘He doesn’t like me ma and da. They wanted to chuck him out in the rain.’
‘Where are your parents?’ I said, guessing the answer. The Kid nodded in the direction of the fire. Suddenly, a swarm of police arrived and I started to feel edgy.
‘I’ve got to go,’ I said. As I walked away, Dog started barking.
‘But Dog likes you,’ said The Kid.
And then I had a thought. This could be a great development opportunity for The Project.
‘Do you want to come with me?’ I asked.
‘And Dog?’ answered The Kid.
‘Of course,’ I said and I saw the traces of a smile.
I’d started The Project about a year after I was laid off and a couple of months after Bev did a runner. Those times are a bit murky but I think it all started one wan November morning when I was driving back from taking photos of a motorway pile up on the A142.
A tall red haired man was hitchhiking near a Little Chef.
I remember pulling over - the radio was playing that Pogues Christmas song - and I remember him getting in the car but I don’t remember killing him or chopping him up and putting him in bin bags. As I say, my memory is a swamp these days.
After that, it became a semi-regular thing and I even started recording the details of The Statistics, as I came to know them: hair, sex, age, race, etc.
With The Kid and Dog in tow, it made collecting The Statistics even easier. People see a man with a kid and a cute dog and they automatically feel safe. Yes, The Project had been going swimmingly until today when a hippy woman took a screwdriver to me and Dog and scrambled out of the car.
The sun was like a gold doubloon, the sky was blue and I felt something I hadn’t felt for a long, long time - sadness. I had to get a move but The Kid just wanted to spend Dog’s last moments on earth with him.
‘Drink this,’ I said to The Kid and gave him the juice laced with sleeping pills that I kept for The Statistics.
I stroked Dog and headed down the other side of the hill to look for a car. I was draped in a dark cloak of gloom. I’d miss that dog.
BIO: Paul D. Brazill was born in England and lives Poland.
His stories have appeared in a number of online and print magazines including Beat To A Pulp, Dark Valentine Magazine, Needle Magazine, Pulp Metal Magazine and Thrillers Killers 'n' Chillers, as well as in the anthologies Dusted, Caught By Darkness, Don't Tread On Me, and RADGEPACKET Volume Four.
His Crimefactory story, Guns Of Brixton, will appear in The Mammoth Book Of Best British Crime Fiction 2011.
And his blog is YOU WOULD SAY THAT WOULDN’T YOU?