Bohemia Village Voice  Bohemia Village Voice

For bohemians everywhere

David Lake

Anniversary

He was cold and he was tired but at least he was home now. It was strange that he couldn’t remember a thing about what had happened to him but he knew it did not matter.
Not now he was home again. The kitchen had its normal warm look and its feeling of comfort and security although, somehow, the cold still seemed to be embedded in his bones. He was sure that as soon as his wife returned all would perfect. He couldn’t remember her leaving but he was sure that she wouldn’t be long. She never was, she knew that he didn’t like her being out on her own for too long.
He began to find his lack of memory disturbing; he had always boasted about and prided himself on his power of recall.
He could remember telling her that they would spend their wedding anniversary on the boat. At first she had seemed ready to argue the point but then changed her mind when she had seen how important the day was to him. She was never able to understand the importance of the boat to the pair of them. It gave them a certain standing in the town. It was a shame that it meant she couldn’t have her own car but that inconvenience was outweighed by the prestige gained.
Thinking hard he recollected her look of discomfort as she looked at the sea as they moved gently out of the marina. It was a perfect sailing day, the wind was brisk and the waves were choppy. As soon as they had set the sails the boat had almost charged across the waves. As usual she had been sick and he had laughed at her and, yet again, reassured her that the only way to defeat sea-sickness was to stay at sea. He pointed out to her, as he did every time, that even the great Lord Nelson had suffered from sea-sickness.
It had not been his fault that the weather had turned for the worse. It was true, she had a point when she mentioned he had not bothered to check the weather report but a little squall was not going to stop his enjoyment. Then he remembered the boat took a sudden shift to port and he lost his footing. She had staggered towards him, reaching out to save him. It had been down to bad luck that she had slipped at that moment and, instead of helping him stay on board had assisted in his journey overboard. He remembered hitting the icy water and then memories stopped.
The newspaper was on the kitchen table and he turned it towards him. He was disappointed to note it was not his preferred paper but hers. He looked at the date and was surprised that it was still their anniversary. There was something wrong, something nagging him but the realisation his hands had left the paper soaking made him realise he was wet through. He needed to get out of his wet things; no wonder he was so cold.
Then he heard a car on the gravel of their driveway. It must be his wife; a friend had probably given her a lift home from the shops. He heard her enter the house and making her way to the kitchen. The door opened and she stood before him. It was his wife but she looked different.
She stopped still. She stared. She opened her mouth and started to scream.
Then he knew what had been wrong. The day and month had been right, the year wrong.

 

Breakdown

The car had broken down. He was angry, not with the car but with himself. He did not know what he could have done to prevent it but he was sure there was something.
This was supposed to be the start of their special weekend and he was delaying their departure. Making it worse was the fact that he had left in such a rush that his mobile phone was still on his desk at work. His inability to contact her made his temper worse.
Then the rain started. Not just a mild drizzle but a full torrent of rain suddenly descended from the dark sky.
They had married young, everyone had told them so, but at eighteen they thought they knew everything. Without telling anyone they booked a registry office for Valentine’s Day. The only other person there, apart from the registrar, was a friend of theirs from the local pub who had agreed to be a witness in return for two pints.
Their respective families had not taken the news well. Neither set of parents visited them for the first few years.
At the beginning all had gone well, the adversity from their families helped to bond them closer together. Then, over time, they had started to drift apart.
He became engrossed in his work as promotions beckoned and she, having been made redundant, filled her time by joining any club she could find. He resented her being a member of so many local clubs. He was envious of her freedom and the many friends she had found. In her turn she begrudged his ever increasing responsibilities and his trips away on business.
The crunch had come when respective Christmas parties had clashed. He refused to go to her tennis club’s party and insisted she joined him at his company’s do. She, in turn, had refused to give way, insisting that the tennis club held a much better celebration than his stuffy company. The result was they both went alone to separate parties.
It was not long before he realised she had been right and it was a boring night, especially without her by his side. He returned home determined to make things right between them. She, however, not overwhelmed by his sudden change towards her, suspected him of having an affair. To try to prove his new found love towards her he had booked a romantic long weekend in Bruges for that Valentine’s Day weekend.
To prove that nothing could go right, promotion beckoned yet again and he had to spend many extra hours at work. This promotion was the big one – if he got this then he would be earning money he had only ever dreamed of. To her, his increased absences merely proved her suspicions.
That day had been interview day and he had got the job. Now he could work from home more and the pressure would be off. If only he could get home to her.
Through the rain-soaked windscreen he saw the lights of the rescue vehicle arrive. Within a few minutes he was on the road again.
Turning into the road on which they lived his heart fell as he spotted a police car parked outside his house. Parking ferociously, he leapt out of the car and ran towards his door.
The door sprang open and his wife ran towards him. She grabbed him, hugging him fiercely with tears streaming down her face.
“Thank God you are safe”, she cried, “I thought you had left me”.
Inside him his heart exploded.

 

Murder

He thought the idea was cool. If you had committed a murder you got street cred. Loads of it.
His brother had killed someone and if the stupid sod hadn’t been dumb and got caught, then he would be treated as almost a God. As it was, he was basking in his brother’s reflected glory.
It was a year to the day that his brother had perpetrated the crime and it was time to celebrate it. He had everything planned. He knew the victim and he knew the method. He was not going to make the mistake and brag about it as his brother had done. No, with the way he had it planned, everyone would know it had been him.
All he needed now was the nerve to go through with it.
He knew the route his victim took on his way home. He knew where he would do it. It would be by the canal, under the road bridge. It would be dark there although he had no fear of his victim seeing him. After all, he wouldn’t be able to tell anyone later. As long as he was quick there wouldn’t be much noise and no-one would hear any sound over the traffic.
There had been trouble between his family and that of his victim for some time. It had all started when some dumb girl had not liked what his brother had suggested to her and slapped him hard. All his brother had done was slap her back, to teach her a lesson then this other guy had stepped in and given his brother a good beating.
A few months later his brother had taken his revenge and the stupid do-gooder had paid the price for his meddling. Once his brother had been sent down for life, people started to act as if that was the end of the matter. He knew better.
Clutching the knife he had stolen from the kitchen that morning, the longest he could find, he settled down to wait. He knew he would be there for a long time but he didn’t want to be seen walking around town – people might ask questions.
Time passed slowly, but he could see along the towpath and kept an eye open for his victim. Every now and then he saw a stranger, so he would duck back into the undergrowth and wait until they had passed. Hunger began to gnaw at him but he hadn’t thought of bringing food with him so he sat and thought of how good his tea was going to be.
Finally he saw his victim making his way along the towpath. Luckily no-one else was in sight.
When his victim was next to his hiding space he leapt out with a shriek, waving his knife before him.
The victim jumped, turned with a startled expression on his face. Then he started to laugh.
“I am going to kill you,” the murderer-to-be screamed.
“What with?” The tears were running down his victim’s face such was his amusement.
“My knife.”
“That is a bread knife. What are you going to do? Slice me to death?”
In frustration he leapt at his victim. He found his wrist caught in an iron-like grasp and helplessly dropped the knife. A well-aimed blow to the side of his head stung him and tears came to his eyes. He ran off crying. Behind him he could hear the taunts shouted after him.
“They should never allow eight-year-olds to play computer games like that,” was the one that hurt the most.

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