NOWHERE MAN - RICHARD GODWIN
They will never find me. Hunt me as they may through the debris and the endless pathways of the burnt city, they don’t know who I am.
I live among the wrecked cars, the blackened windows. I haunt the boxes of food and junk, I live with the old tramps doused in meths and belligerent as an unpaid whore. They don’t know who the killer is.
I’m the still and silent shadow you pass in the urine stained subway.
I’m the body you step over as you look away.
I’m your shame.
I’m your silhouette as you betray your wife with your mistress.
I’m the blank space in your cheque book as you sign away your guilt, adding zeros to your numberless crimes.
And I people your dreams with nightmares, the ones you pay to go away.
You fee your therapists and hungry staff while I whittle away the softened bone of your identity.
Nothing. That is the place I live.
I dwell there an inch from heaven.
I visit your back with my whip.
Hunt me and you will find only refuse and the alleys overflowing with your garbage.
That summer of searing heat felt like it would never end when I started my murders, hunting the smug scum down in their sewers.
I killed so many, the police walked a wire and it cut their tired feet as I looked them in the eye as they arrested and rearrested the wrong people.
I lay beneath my soiled blanket and ate rotting food.
I, too, had once been a paid employee of a large organisation. I worked long hours and felt used like an orifice for the gratification of others.
And when I found out what I had been, that I was nothing more than a pawn in my wife’s drama and the directors’ games of investment and sales, I lost my job.
I lost my wife, who took all my money, and I ended up on the street learning the ways of daily survival. For a while I knocked on the steel door of respectability until my fist bled.
And I untied the knot of their lives like some twisted lie they served me on a plastic plate.
I followed them all, unseen and anonymous.
I ventured into their sanctuaries and found out their deceit.
I watched my wife leave town, hidden within a cliché of fashion and a veil of perfume.
Smells reach you out here. It’s not so much the gnawing hunger as the sudden awareness of others’ bodies, as if you’re lying in a rotting pit made of flesh. Existence becomes a sharp edge, the streets are razors nudging the bleeding corners of your being. The safe life is lived inside reinforced glass.
And I resolved to be the thing they made me.
The first killing was easy.
The old pervert approached me for some casual buggery and I explained I was starving to let him screw me.
He took me to his apartment and rubbed his hands lasciviously, unzipping his stained pants while I ate. Over a plate of cold meat, I stabbed him with the casual boredom of the exhausted until he choked on his own blood.
I stayed there that night sleeping with the rising stench of rotting flesh and I left him gouged and empty as a savaged corpse by the wayside.
That was before the heat.
The next day, the temperature soared.
People who’d left for work in winter clothes found themselves sweating. They stripped off on the way home, diving into shops for water and ice, stopping on the corners of streets and ignoring me, breathing deeply, as if air was their only friend. And I watched and saw what promise this empty land held.
I buried my roots deep in the parched soil.
The heat became my ally.
A homeless person is invisible and I used my shield.
The first killing was but a prelude and I held my plan in my clenched fist.
The wealthy users who’d dismissed me like a leper would pay and so would their representatives.
I stole into their world, a tramp at their dinner tables.
I hunted them to their homes and watched through their windows as they entertained. I cut them, shot them, ended them in so many ways it would be tedious to recount.
The startled outrage on their faces, the various ways I let them bleed, as if bleeding were an end to sin, all fed this life I found at the edge of nowhere like an unknown flower in the world of a lost dream.
My wife’s face floated before me like a shadow without form and I sought her out too, where she lay in the dreamy arms of her new husband, a man who had no fate or mercy, who had lost his identity in the trappings of marriage.
I found them one moonless night beneath soiled sheets and I merged their sweating bodies with my knife.
I hunted and killed all those who’d put me where I was.
I became fate.
I went to homes replete with the luxury of theft and I dismembered the stuffed buyers of status.
I removed the personnel from the organisation I once worked for.
And the police hunted the tax payers and the convicts, working only with the script they knew.
Murders pay their salaries. The homeless contribute far more than you realise.
They hunt those with an identity and ignore me in my pool of piss.
I remain invisible and anonymous.
I am the one you pass in the hallway, on the stairs.
I am the thing you cannot bear to face, and I take my job seriously.
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; Gloom Cupboard; Thrillers, Killers ’N Chillers; The New Flesh and Pulp Metal Magazine, 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 website is now all-new, complete with information on his upcoming novel APOSTLE RISING and a special page devoted to the critically-acclaimed CHIN WAG AT THE SLAUGHTERHOUSE interviews.
The Irish Times’ Crime Fiction ‘Best Of’ 2018
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