Friday, August 13, 2010

A Twist Of Noir 546 - Richard Godwin


Part Four Of A Four-Part Saga (the first three parts can be found here, here and here)

Maxy wanted a new bag.

She and Mick settled in a small town at the edge of the Sonoran desert. They consoled themselves with the merciless beauty of rattlesnakes. They felt their ruined lives run on within them like scars. They said little and lapsed into the pregnant silence of menace. And the vacuum in their souls became swollen. An insatiable urge was leaking its disease into their hearts.

They saw no man or woman save themselves. They sat and watched each other with the native menace of predators who resented any form of incursion into their own territory. And in the absence of prey, they began to turn on one another.

The nearest town was small and ill-equipped, existing as pointlessly as a bank in a wasteland. Abduction and skinning were impossible there without detection.

And the one thing neither Mick nor Maxy wanted was to be found out.

One evening, beneath a dying sun, they sat and drank rum. The sand seemed flecked with drops of solar blood and some apocalyptic mood cast its shadow on their black existence.

‘You know, we need a killing soon,’ Mick said.

‘What do you suggest?’

‘Drive out of here, get a man, take him somewhere, cut him up.’

‘What about your need for pussy?’

‘I ain’t no common rapist.’

‘No. You do it with your own style, that’s all.’

‘What are you saying?’

‘I’m saying you like raping women.’

‘Ain’t we both just dressing up our disease?’

‘It don’t matter to me if you hurt other women. I have no identification with them.’

‘Your daddy killed that off in you, too?’

‘I buried my connection to the sisterhood with the scarred corpse of my sister.’

‘You never did tell me that story.’

‘I found her one day sitting in a chair in a red T-shirt. She had the remote control in her hand and Bugs Bunny on the TV. I said something to her and she didn’t respond. And I saw the new scars on her legs. Daddy would carve a line on a fresh patch of skin every time he did it. He called it drawing the line. He’d march off and say he’d never touch us again, blaming mom for disappearing and leaving him with two young girls.’

‘What happened?’

‘I looked at her and her eyes weren’t moving, they had a film on them, and I saw her T-shirt wasn’t red. He’d scarred her too deep, he’d cut her heart out. I cradled her and swaddled her in bed sheets and buried her at the end of the garden.’

‘He sure took everything from you.’

‘Yeah, well, he wasn’t going to take no more. The next day, I left.’

Mick looked at the horizon filled by the weight of the sinking sun. The Earth seemed to be bleeding. And it seemed to him that this was the home for all of lost humanity. That the pitiless geography of the place was a mirror to the endless homicide of their blackened souls.

He stood up and looked down at her.

She was wearing a loose blouse and he eyed her perfect skin in the darkness. The irony of her conflict was lost on him. As was the nature of the trap they had built for themselves, as if an unseen hand were forging metal in the dark.

Overhead, the black sky filled with tiny lights.

He recognised her skin could only belong to a woman. It was imbued with some innate emollient that perfumed it, and her scent was being carried to him in the air. In that moment, he resented her for his desire.

He wondered if he was nothing more than an ordinary rapist facing the vertigo of an impossible dig into a woman’s soul. And the latent wonder of excavation eluded him as if he was colour blind to a summer garden and saw only thorns.

A black spider scuttled across the deck, distracting him with the familiarity of the ugly.

‘You need skin,’ he said.

‘I do.’

She raised her glass to her mouth and sipped and Mick wondered at her beauty, as if a veil had been lifted by the twilight hour.

Two tiny drops of moisture settled on her lips and evaporated in the desert air.

He reached a hand down and placed it on one of her breasts.

‘Getting hard?’ she said.

‘Maxy, you always did have it.’

She got up and removed her blouse and stood under the starlit sky.

‘We need to kill someone soon,’ she said.

They went into the bedroom and Mick felt her yielding and ran his callused hand over her skin. He took what he needed while she went somewhere else and then she felt the hot rush of his need enter and swim inside her.

He lay next to her and she squeezed his dick as if she wanted to witness its redundancy before she spoke.

‘I want you to watch me when I do it,’ she said.

‘I always do, Maxy.’

‘No, I mean, really watch me. I want you to look into their eyes as they know what is happening to them. I want them kept alive while I take away that part of them and I want their torture to enter you, to violate that part of your soul the same way I was violated.’

‘Do you ever feel like sticking your hands inside them? To enter them, Maxy?’

‘All the time. I want to penetrate them.’

‘So why don’t you?’


‘You skin them and you fear contamination?’

She rose from the bed and stood looking out at the empty landscape that was bereft of all humanity and she turned and said, ‘Let’s go and kill someone now.’

Mick rose as if summoned by her disease and put on his shirt and jeans as Maxy dressed and they headed out into the liquid night.


Beneath the town, they found the highway on which they hadn’t travelled since going on the run.

They toured the empty streets of some adjacent settlement and sniffed the air for flesh but found none.

And, all the while, their eyes were upon each other, as if lost in some final act that had only one solution.

They stopped at a small cafe where a trucker was eating a plate of food and waited drinking coffee in the slow dawn that was rising like a spectre of hopelessness. The trucker left and they knew he was not the one.

The woman behind the counter eyed them with distrust as if they had lost their ability to disguise what they were, and they walked away like exiles.

They waited in the car until it was light and observed the movements of life.

People left their houses and went to work. They inhabited a normality Mick and Maxy found alien and repellent.

The street grew quiet.

A man stopped nearby and Mick jumped out and tried to push him into the car, but it was a fumbled attempt, and they drove away.

Eventually, they returned to their dwelling, having no other option.

They slept until dark and rose and found there was no food in the house.

‘You hungry?’ Mick said.

‘Of course.’

They sat outside and drank.

‘They’re still looking for us,’ Mick said.

‘I know.’

‘The last paper we saw was full of it.’

‘We need to move on.’


‘What have we got left?’


And they knew that was nothing.

They looked at each other with the hatred borne of entrapment and finished their drinks and went into the empty house. Outside, the desert wasteland hummed with desolation.


There was a moment when they stood looking at one another, weighing up what it was they were lost to and then Maxy began to strip.

She stood naked and went over to Mick and played the badly rehearsed part of a sexual encounter.

He tried to kiss her and she reeled.

He overpowered her raised hand and forced his way into her, holding her face so that he stared into her eyes.

She looked like a tethered mare that has seen a predator descend on its foals.

Mick pushed deeply and stayed inside her as long as he could and felt the semen cool and run down their thighs.

‘It ain’t there,’ he said.

‘What ain’t?’

‘Your soul.’

‘We both resonate to that hollowness, Mick.’

She pulled away and went into the bathroom, where she sprayed bleach into herself and then went to lie on the bed, biting hard on the tangled sheets.

Mick stood watching her.

And, in the lurid light, he saw it. The trap laid bare and the encryption of some buried will in the acts that had led them to this place.

‘We better get you some skin,’ he said.


‘Gotta be somewhere.’

‘You want to be caught?’


‘I read in the paper a while back about two lovers who did a suicide pact. They had no reason to live so they took their own lives together.’

‘That right?’

‘It is.’

‘That what we are, Maxy, lovers?’

‘Of a scarred and blackened kind. With every relationship, there is some dark. It holds two people together. Yours and mine is shaded entirely with it, save for maybe a crack or two of light.’

‘Only light we got is when the refection of someone else’s falls our way.’

‘We’re at the end of the road, Mick.’

‘You never did get that new bag.’

‘My daddy broke his promise. Every time he fucked me, he’d say he’d get me one. He never did.’

She lay down and he watched her moving on the bed in all her blighted beauty. And so he lay down with her.

They listened to each other’s breathing for a while before she rose and fetched the rest of the whisky. She drank some and handed him the bottle and he drank the rest.

Then she sliced his upper body in two.

She had the blade hidden behind her back. As he turned to look at the moon, the jet of blood that shot from him reminded her of the first time she saw a hot spurt of come.

She saw how the moonlight turned the blood blue and, for a moment, she desired him before she started peeling.

Mick reached a hand under the bed and hammered his dagger into her back repeatedly until she fell on top of him and they wrestled there, cutting and butchering one another with the precise rhythm of lovers. Their cries were indistinguishable from the tortured passion of lost souls, their hips locked together.

Finally, they fell still.

Outside the window, something howled, summoning the feasting that would begin in that wasteland where the killers met their journey’s end.

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 blog, RICHARD GODWIN, which will be undergoing a bit of a facelift to help launch his novel, 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).


AJ Hayes said...

"As if an unseen hand was forging metal in the dark" I got nothing. I'm not good enough to write anything that can sit in the same room with that. This thing is getting to be a flash flood that can only compete with itself. Keep writing, I'm reading.

Michael Solender said...

Lyrical. Lovers that are made for each other. A fine capper to a fine series. I'll no doubt have nightmares

Carrie Clevenger said...

The insane thrown together can only end up destroying one another. Distinctly reminiscent of Natural Born Killers. Might be why I dug it.

missalister said...

Well, Richard, this is the darnedest thing. I’m mired deep in the environment you created. Mick and Maxy, who were nothing, were something. Alone now, with them gone, I feel like being gone for being nothing. So. What a feat, conjuring a desolation that seeps into and envelops a reader like an unforseeable fog. What delicious melancholy. And all the most inspired words came to you to achieve it. It’s everything I live for: to swoon over otherworldly words and to find myself perfectly lost. Bravissimo!

quin browne said...

Reason # 972,481 I'll never live in Arizona again.

I give this a whole bushel of turnips!!

Now, can I get shoes that match?

Charles Gramlich said...

"The vacuum in their souls became swollen."

Excellent writing. I really enjoyed the fresh language.

Coraline J. Thompson said...

What a perfect ending to a fantastic series!

I'm totally jealous...

There is NO competition here.

Jodi MacArthur said...

In this piece, there is horror of a much darker variety, and you bring us deeply into their poetic hollows, ending with a desolate Shakespearean death kiss.

This last piece stands on its own, and is excellently written. Their solace in companionship, which even the blackest hearts crave.

Wonderous, beautiful, and very very sick. ;-)

Lynn Alexander said...

This was a great write and I am glad that I got to it before my trip.

It did have that "Natural Born Killers" vibe, I also liked that they were kind of dysfunctional, things don't work out easily.

Cormac Brown said...

Brilliant prose, man.

Salvatore Buttaci said...

Richard, this, more than the other parts of your skin tale, is the most poetic, which is saying quite a lot. Who but a few, including you, can write horror with a poet's hand? You remain at the top of my favorite writers.

Cindy Rosmus said...

I knew they'd take each other out, someday. Each had no competition but for the other. Unsentimental, beautiful prose. Like congealed black blood. Graced with lines like: "And the latent wonder of excavation eluded him as if he was colour blind to a summer garden and saw only thorns"...WONDERFUL!
I love you, Godwin.

M. C. Funk said...

This was, the Saga overall, an unusual piece. It went from rather neatly composed crime writing to mythic prose woven around the same kind of plot pacing. By this piece, it was reading like a fable strewn with psychology and philosophy. I like the mythic tone, so that appealed, and I like the overall "journey" of the writing.

I wasn't so certain about liking the ending. This could be because I was attached to the characters, could be because the actions of it so quickly rendered. I did enjoy the abruptness - it drove home the point that this entire Saga was one big "ending" - but the circumstances leave me feeling somewhat incomplete. I suppose that's not so bad a thing. As some have said here, it's a message itself.

Overall, marvelous work, Richard. I thought the transformation of the prose was splendid and the characters were enchanting.

My only regret is that there is no more to enjoy.

Anonymous said...

Thank you to everyone for following this journey from trauma to bloodshed. There was, ultimately, only one way it could end.