Monday, 9 November 2009

A CHANGED MAN - by David Barber

In the last episode Vincent Mitchell promised to tell us about the first killing that changed him…forever...

A Changed Man

“Hey, Vinny. How you holding up mate?”

“Getting there, Frank, getting there. How’s Mrs Collins?”

“Oh, she’s up and down, literally all bloody night. Bladder’s had it I think and her looks…” Frank laughed to himself.

“Good job she can’t hear you from back there, she’d have your balls on a plate.”

“I’m safe. I think her hearing’s had it as well. That all you want, Vinny?”

“Yes just the gutter-press, as usual.”

“You could have these posted you know. I could put ‘em on young Pete’s round if you want.”

“No, I enjoy the walk down here in the mornings Frank. Gets the old metabolism going and helps clear the mind.”

* * *

Sorry about that, Frank thinks I’m still grieving. The same conversation most morning’s. He’s a good old bloke at heart, but I think he thinks I’m going to do something stupid one day. Little does he really know? Well I promised to tell you about the first one I killed so here it is. It’s a bit gruesome and to this day I don’t know who I was at that moment in time.

* * *

I’d been sent the information via a text message, accompanied by a photo. How was I supposed to know that as I opened the message, checked the information and the photo, that he would be stood next to me at the bar, and he’d seen the photo of himself.

“One eighty five mate,” the bar tender said, placing a pint in front of him.

“Sorry….err, I’ve gotta….err…go,” my target replied.

I looked at him just as he was turning to leave the place. His face registered as I looked back at my phone and then back to him, but I was a fraction too late. He was at the door before I could even move from the bar. I ran towards the door and got there just as one of the fattest women I’d seen in a long time came through it, literally blocking the whole space.


“You’re a bit forward aren’t ya love?” fatty said smiling and revealing quite horrendous teeth.

My heart was pumping, not just from running from the bar to the door by the way, but adrenaline was coursing through my veins and the fact that I had already lost my target was making it work harder than normal.

“Don’t be shy, honey. I could show ya a fing or two. You’d be surprised what the bigger lady can……”

I didn’t let her finish and my politeness had waned. “Look. Your arse is millimetres away from dragging that whole fucking door frame in here with it. Now, I suggest you back the fuck out so I can get past cos I don’t want to be in here when your fat arse is causing the fucking place to collapse. MOVE!”

Backing out of the door so I could pass she told me what a cheeky, dickless twat I was and I should learn to speak to women with a bit more respect.

I looked up and down the pavement but he was nowhere to be seen.


“Changed ya mind, darlin?” she asked, laughing.

“Keep dreaming lady, keep dreaming.”

Lost the target, was all I put into the text message and pressed the send button.

Within seconds I got a reply: We know. Don’t worry and calm down. You will receive information promptly.

True enough, I’d only waited about twenty minutes when I’d received another text message.

Barton Swing Bridge.

I got to my car, which I’d parked at the back of the library, started the engine and headed down Barton Lane towards the bridge. Just before the top of the road I took a sharp left and parked my car behind the King’s Head pub. I sat there taking deep breaths, trying to calm my nerves when my mobile sounded, telling me I had another message.

Make your way past the pub, under the bridge and take a left through the gate towards the ship canal. Your target is sat on a bench at the canal side.

This was it.

I wasn’t going to lose him now. As I walked through the gate towards the canal side I could see a figure sat on the bench, leaning forward with his head bowed and shoulders hunched. Daylight was fading and a chill found its way through my jacket and up my spine: fear, or the autumn weather, I’ll never really know.

I was about ten feet from the bench and released the knife from my pocket. All my senses were now totally focused on the man sat in front of me. The only noise I could hear was my heart thumping against my breast bone as it worked overtime, pumping blood and adrenaline through my veins. Apart from that, silence dominated the whole scene. I couldn’t hear a thing.

Six feet away: my target hadn’t moved.

Four: still no movement.

I was two feet away and “snap”, I stood on a twig.

He snapped his head round and looked at me, stunned as he stared at the knife in my trembling hand.

Getting up from the bench he asked, “How the fuck have you found me? What do you want, a… a… and why have you got my picture on your phone?”

“Lower your voice and nothing will happen to you,” I lied.

“What do you want? Why have you got that knife if nothing’s going to happen?”

I looked down at the knife as if I didn’t even know it was there. A confused, almost frightened look settled on my face. I walked towards him, a mixture of emotions spinning round my head. What was I doing? I wasn’t a killer. I was an honest, decent man.

He must have noticed the indecision on my face and took his chance. He rushed at me and, with what must have been total instinct, I blindly thrust the knife at him. His eyes bulged and he grabbed at his neck. Blood ran through his fingers as he tried to stem the flow. I stepped back from him, watching as he fell to his knees.

Tears welled in my eyes. I’d actually done it. This pervert was going to die, and by my hands. Oh shit… oh shit… oh shit! What the fuck have I done?

Tom Atherton was a 37 year old paedophile from Sheffield who had been re-homed, with a new identification, to Eccles. He was now on his knees in front of me, clutching at his throat as his sick life pumped out of the wound in his neck. I took a step closer to him and he looked up at me, and to this day I don’t know what came over me, or where it came from, but in a swift movement I pushed the knife into his left eye first and then into his right one. There was a squelch as I pulled it out and Tom made a gurgled attempt at a scream as he grabbed for his ruined eyes.

“That’s for my son, Ben Mitchell. He was taken from me by the likes of you. Four, he was... only four... and he was taken away…y…y…you b...b...bastard.” I jabbed the knife at his now exposed neck and embedded it up to the handle, just below his Adam's Apple.

Tom Atherton’s hands fell from his face as he fell forward. As he hit the ground, the knife handle hit the concrete first and the blade came out of the back of his neck. At that point I turned away from him and started walking towards the gate. I was suddenly struggling for breath as I was overcome by what I had just done, and how I could have done it. Salty tears ran from my eyes.

* * *

I now understand that you are prepared to do anything, even murder, for those closest to you, even if they are not here with you. I often think about the others that I have killed and whether I am doing right or wrong. I question myself about the morals of my actions, but the image of my son soon invades those thoughts and sends them back to the far recesses of my mind. I suppose there is always going to be a seed of guilt there, but as long as that seed is never ‘fed and watered’ then hopefully a seed is all it will stay.

Well, I’d better go and get myself sorted out. I’m out later on, so will be in touch again, soon.

Manchester born and bred, but now living in Crieff, Scotland with his wife and two daughters. Wrote some years ago but have recently been inspired to write again by an old and good friend (Col Bury) and the beauty that surrounds him in Scotland. Always reading - when not entertaining my girls and working - crime and horror…and now writing.


  1. Gruesome shit, Dave. Makes you wonder what you'd actually do if someone touched someone close to you...

    Hope you like the pic of our old stamping ground.

  2. Loved the encounter with the fat lady. Seems almost out of place given the ending. Regardless, it sucked me in and made me wonder just what I would be capable of given the same circumstances. Nice piece of writing.

  3. Grisly stuff Dave but very well written and a gripping read.

    Looking forward to hearing more from Vincent.

    Best Wishes.

  4. Thanks guys. I wonder myself what I would be capable of if someone hurt a loved one and think 'well....maybe' but then that may be just the red wine...or is it?
    Vincent Mitchell will return in the not too distant future.
    Regards, David.

  5. .....Col, love the photo. Was that shot taken from 'lovers lane' or 'shaggers lane' as we used to call it!

  6. Excellent characterization and loved the rich dialogue in this piece. Not too bloody at all! Just right.

  7. Erin, Paul.... Thanks for your comments. There is more to come from Vincent Mitchell, and it could get bloodier. Watch this space.
    Regards, David.

  8. “You’re a bit forward aren’t ya love?”

    Worth the price of admission just for that, and the story was up there, too.

  9. Thanks for your comments Cormac. I thought it needed a little bit of 'banter' with what was going to happen at the end.
    Regards, David.

  10. I started copying lines that made me laugh out loud and then paused as it got harrowing. Dave, that was really gritty and blindingly good.

  11. Thanks Lee. Vincent Mitchell has got a lot of hurting to dish out. Your comments are much appreciated.
    Regards, David.

  12. I'm with Lee. I was led comfortably into it and then it really had me giggling. Your 'lady' was like something out of VIZ - but I've seen those women - they're real. (Scary!!)

    The pace of the story as it got darker was just right, and although we shouldn't take the law into our own hands, I'm sure we were all rooting for Vinny. Sometimes fiction is the only place you can deal out justice...

    Fantastic stuff. Look forward to reading more.

  13. I couldn't possibly support vigilantism ; )

    (In Joke for those of you who didn't realise)

  14. Lily, some times taking the law into your own hands is the way forward. Glad you enjoyed it.

    Matt, thanks for your comments. There is more to come. Vigilante's rule!!!

    Regards, David.

  15. hi David,good one,you can just imagine the fat bird in your way ,quite stressful made it allthe more interesting,nice to throw in a googly.

  16. Thanks Chris, glad you enjoyed it.
    Regards, David.

  17. Another fine entry.
    Something about the eyes isn't there?