Friday, August 20, 2010

Harbinger - Part 2

Miles, straightens his Polo collar and brushes his camel lapels, as if anyone would notice in this place full of filth and noise. He wraps his fist with a starched linen handkerchief, embroidered with his initials and knocks gingerly on the dilapidated door. It's the last along the corridor of a once respectful establishment now fallen into disrepair and disrepute. Now it's cheap hostel accommodation, rank and broken, where those who are also rank and broken, seek refuge. The peeling paint a testimony to long term neglect and the smell of urine in each corner, testimony to inhabitants who have lost all self-respect.  He prays that someone answers because so often they do not. No-one replies.

He's not cut out for this. He's more comfortable with neurotic housewives and stressed executives, traumatised spoiled brats who need a dose of Ritalin for a spurious disease. These are the people who normally find themselves on his therapists couch but maintaining a pro-bono presence is good for his practice so he suffers the indignity of poorer and less lucrative clients and pays the occasional 'home' visit. His lips turn downward  with disgust, this dilapidated tenement is no home.

He waits, but no noise from within and since he can't enter without a warrant unless invited, he unwraps an antiseptic wipe and cleans his hands before calling the police. "Nobody's answering" he snipes without emotion in his voice and wishing he could just walk away, "I need assistance . . "

Too often he's too late. Turning up after some poor soul has passed away through neglect or suicide. He steels himself for the usual response.

"A stinker?" the Comms Op asks, "Not that I can tell" says Miles. Although he suspects when the door is opened his olfactory will be assaulted to the point that his evening meal will be vegan, a necessity of sustenance rather than a sumptuous feast to savour.

Finally the police arrive, break down the already beaten door and enter the hovel. Not much to be enjoyed for $55 a week. The lino floor is stained, the light switch doesn't work. A thin beacon of sunlight streams through broken glass illuminating a sliver through curtains, long drawn and never washed. Minuscule particles of dust dance happily within the beam.

Dinginess is pervasive with thin drapes drawn across a window glazed with grime. A couch against a grubby wall its vibrant floral blooms long faded by age and lack of attention. The table smeared with last month's dust and last year's grease. The carpet clean on inspection but filthy when disturbed. Dishes unwashed and the stain of weeks clings hard to every surface. In the background buzz the flies, the harbingers of death.

They draw their LED torches and rays form happy partners in their dance with the dust, like random stars looking for escape from this black hole into the cosmos. Miles' discomfort in the clammy dark is palpable as he nervously, flicks the light switch.  A buzz, a flicker, the light ignites and illuminates the room.  Now wishing he'd left the flat in darkness he's revulsed by it's tardy state.

Police torches holstered, since no longer needed with the light, three officers inspect every filthy room.  The air is acrid and becoming pungent with the smell of decay. Experience forewarns the visitors that the bedroom would not be pleasant. The harbingers were breeding and tell-tale maggots form a moving rice-grain trail towards the closed bedroom door.

 Miles has seen such scenes before and this one was not so different but what greeted each upon their entry was more than incongruous. The room was spotless. Dust free and pristine with a translucent Holland blind permitting sunlight with no view. Strategically placed upon the floor and in the centre of the only clean  room in the house, were two large cardboard boxes,neatly bound with gaffer tape.   Miles trails the three policemen as they inspect their pristine but odourific surroundings. Eyebrows are raised more at the oddity of this sterile resting place among such neglect, than towards the rookie cop who fouled the floor by losing his lunch. 

Careful hands remove the tape that seals the first box. No need to open more than one flap before it's obvious, dismemberment had been parcelled up and packaged, weeks ago. The most experienced of these hardened cops gagged at the state of the remains. Only harbingers of death appreciate such tasty morsels. Coroners are called and cameras flash the scene, yellow tape is applied and notes are hastily taken before the box is zipped and locked into a bag with its as yet unopened companion, prior to the Coroner's deliberation.

Miles is no longer needed. There will be no repatriation or social assistance required today. He's free to return to the trials of desperate housewives and tortured executives. These bodyparts won't need soothing with psychology. Time to depart the scene.

He leaves them to their grisly calling and walks into the sunlit street. Tears open another disposable sanitized cloth and wipes his perfectly manicured hands. He straightens his spotless polo collar and adjusts his camel lapels. He's a picture of sartorial elegance and well-pleased, begins to smile. 

This is his fourth 'disposal'. He smirks at the stupidity of the uniformed grunts who haven't clicked that men like him will always double-check their handiwork and revisit the scene. Clearly they haven't read the book now closed on his Kindle.

Filth begets filth he thinks, "Time to find new flatmates"

Part 2 of Harbingers, posted for The Tenth Daughter of Memory "Below the Neck"


  1. I have no doubt, Jeff inspired this post!

  2. wow--pretty gruesome. a couple comma opportunities early on...good ending!

  3. Creepy!!! You know what I like best about your writing style? It has a wonderful rhythm, great textures and it's easy to read. Dee-lish.

  4. You know what? I really could only scan both parts of this, the first part the other day, and this part just now. It seems well written, it just isn't to my taste. Sorry!

  5. There were some really gruesome images in this. You have an amazing "eye" for detail. I like the ending. It wraps the whole story up nicely.

  6. Nice foreshadowing in part 1, great conclusion in part 2. I love me some creepy! And it's totally creepy that this whack job is a therapist...

  7. quite gruesome baino...i do like the allusions from the first to second all the little details as well...