Saturday, 11 May 2013

In the Basement - MWBB

This was my entry to the Mid-Week Blues-Buster competition, which brought me an Honourable Mention.

The prompt was a song:
  “The Ripper” by Judas Priest
In the Basement
Mr Johnson was glad they’d moved the boy down to the basement; the thud thud of his music was far more tolerable than hearing it in full upstairs. ‘Heavy Metal’ they called it, and it was dreadful. Mr Johnson had no idea how they could bear all that screaming. And were there words? He couldn’t tell, even when the boy had had his room upstairs.

Denny’d said they were evil songs, inciting the young’uns to be violent; that the words were all about death, killing and sexual perversion. He didn’t know about that, even though the boy did wear his hair long and he only ever saw him in black. Denny was sure he’d seen him wear make-up, but even though he lived next door, Mr Johnson couldn’t attest to that.

The boy was just an adolescent, trying to define who he wanted to be, and he wasn’t close yet. As for violent? Mr Johnson gave a snort. No, he didn’t have that in him, he was fairly sure of that.

Mr Johnson gazed at the house from this second floor study window and remembered the layout from when he’d lived there. Some thought he was strange for having moved next door after he was widowed, but he couldn’t bear being inside those walls.

He thought about the boy being down there in the basement, filling it with his noise, and wondered if he’d managed to drown it out.

Mr Johnson shivered as he stood there remembering that night; how he’d been gone a whole week and hadn’t had a clue anything was wrong. Communications then weren’t what they were today, where everyone could get hold of you any time. One call a week was all he managed when he was on the road.

He’d walked in blindly that night, shouting for his wife, not suspecting anything. He still remembered the shock he’d felt, when he saw him standing there, bold as you like, hands covered in blood up to the elbows.

“Howdy neighbour,” was what he’d said, while he waited to see what Mr Johnson was going to do. And it was in that silence that he’d heard it; her moans.

Paulie had had a grin on his face, his eyes alive – even sparkling. The only time Mr Johnson had seen them like that was when they’d had the neighbourhood barbeque, and he’d told them all about the pig he’d gutted while it was still alive.

But what Paulie hadn’t known was that Mr Johnson was a veteran – not of the Vietnam War though, like everyone seemed to be these days, but the Korean. And since returning he’d never been able to go anywhere without being armed - but not with a gun, like everyone thought, but a knife - in an ankle strap.

It was handy, especially that night when he’d faked being sick at the sight of his own wife’s blood and bent over double; his moans matching hers.

Paulie had even helped by stepping forward - even saying, “You okay, bud?” as he did so. And Mr Johnson had come up fast, sticking it in just under the chin, and twisting hard. He almost relished the gurgle Paulie had given out in surprise.

He’d left Paulie then to fall and bounce off the lino as he’d rushed to see the damage he’d done to his wife, but he’d known as soon as he’d laid eyes on her that it was hopeless.

It was only after, when everything had been examined, that they had found out he’d been busy with her for days; taking her apart, bit by bit. There’d never even been a chance.

They’d called him a hero; Paulie had been wanted in five states for such atrocities. They’d even had a nickname for him; the American Ripper, after that guy in London years ago.

But Mr Johnson didn’t want to be a hero, he just wanted the moans from the basement to stop, and some nights, when it was really still, he could still hear them, even from over here.  

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