Anna's back up from down under with this refreshing noir tale...
Fast Eddie was dead, which, in the great scheme of things was a good thing. The fact that a lot of his insides were now outsides and doing a piss poor job of redecorating my rented bedroom wall in glorious poinsettia red wasn’t as pleasing. On the plus side, he was no longer in a position to threaten me and I no longer owed him a colossal amount of money, and if I could stop throwing up long enough to let that sink in, I might even be relieved.
As it turned out, Fast Eddie wasn’t so fast. We’d both reached for the gun but my spontaneous female adrenaline turned out to be far superior to his calculated male reflexes. In actual fact, his name wasn’t even Eddie but in a moment of inspired genius I’d decided weeks ago Fast Malcolm just didn’t have the same sleazy ring to it. I’m clever like that.
Mr and Mrs Rozniak were going to be less impressed with my wit though, when they got home. They weren’t the sort of people who would appreciate having Malcolm’s innards spread across their delicate lilac print wallpaper; not even if those globs belonged to a no-good, stinking, scuzz bucket who deserved everything he got.
The Rozniaks were the sort of people who covered their spare toilet rolls in frilly material and didn’t let you inside the house with your shoes on. They also didn’t allow smoking in the yard, television after 10pm, animals on the property or members of the opposite sex to visit boarders in their rooms, and seeing as how Fast Eddie ticked the last two out of those four boxes, I was pretty certain they were not going to be pleased he’d met his maker on their faded lime green 1970s shag pile. Actually, I thought, as I balanced over the toilet and retched again, this might even give them cause to evict me and that would really, really suck.
As dealing with trauma had never been one of my strong points - I used to get light headed when Wile E Coyote fell under a boulder - the daunting prospect of facing the chaotic scene in the bedroom again loomed ever present in my mind. I considered remaining in the en suite bathroom hugging the toilet bowl until help arrived but the phone was in another room and I hadn’t actually got around to calling for any assistance.
I figured there were only two ways out of the mess; to face it head on or avoid it altogether. My personal philosophy has always been that avoidance is the preferred option - just staple feathers to my skin and call me chicken - but unless I made a move soon, I might be stuck in here performing intestinal acrobatics until Sunday afternoon when Mr and Mrs Rozniak returned from their out-of-town Christmas shopping expedition. I’d just have to make a run for it. It was a simple plan because I was a simple woman. Not so simple, of course, that I’d consider sleeping with Fast Eddie again though. Oh no, no no.
I’d had a stinker of a week. Sometimes you just have to say enough is enough and any man with shit for brains knows you don’t wave slimy intimidation in the face of a woman who’s had a stinker of a week – not even if you have a gun to hide behind. Either Fast Eddie didn’t know the universal rules about dealing with PMT or he didn’t have a brain at all, else he would’ve left his attempt at playing macho dirtbag for a more appropriate time on my calendar. I was not in the mood to be trifled with today. I needed an unhealthy dose of cholesterol-laden greasy food, not a horizontal tango under my threadbare Holly Hobbie sheets.
I’d trudged my way home in the middle of the afternoon through last-minute-shopper chaos from my part-time shift work job as one of Santa's helpers at the department store to find Malcolm in my bed with nothing on but his wristwatch and a seedy leer looking for a little afternoon delight.
“Delight this,” I’d said, waving a solitary finger in the air. I was the queen of biting comebacks so I hoped that glib retort would stop him in his tracks. It didn’t.
That’s when he threatened me with the gun before being smug enough to return it to the bedside table. He had the nerve to lay it right alongside my little tin Santa with the wobbly head. Now that was just rude. I may have been behind in my payments but I wasn’t desperate enough to be coerced, cajoled or cornered into sleeping with the slime ball again. The one time I’d relented and had done the deed - under pressure and in sheer desperation - with Fast Eddie in lieu of an overdue payment it had been…well…fast.
I might be stupid sometimes but I’m not dumb. Even when threatened with death or disfiguration by illegal firearm up close and personal, closing my eyes and thinking of England through a repeat performance of The Bad, The Worse and The Ugly would be just plain sad and my life was already depressing enough as it was. I was a less than svelte - okay, moderately plump - thirty three year old, wearing a too-tight pixie outfit under my coat, up to my over-plucked brows in debt and renting a back room from a couple whose idea of a wild time was playing Trivial Pursuit with the next door neighbours. I didn’t need another of Eddie’s premature demoralisations to remind me of how much lower my life could plummet. So I shot him.
I supposed the Rozniak’s perspective on their comfortable suburban life might now take a sudden unexpected turn for the worse. Sad, I know, but we’ve all gotta face reality some time. It was my turn now. I had to leave the sanctuary of the bathroom or stare malnutrition in the face. Hey, I’d just thrown up my Maccas breakfast with extra bacon and cheese and the six doughnuts I’d had to tide me over for lunch so if ever there was an excuse for comfort eating, now was as good a time as there’d ever be.
I opened the bathroom door and took a steadying breath, making a mental note to force open my eyes as soon as I started for the opposite doorway leading to the lounge. I took tentative steps and kept my eyes averted from the schizophrenic Picasso abstract on my duvet, all the time crossing my fingers I wouldn’t do a Torville and Dean in the splatter.
I phoned the cops and reported the fatality, then with shaking hands, tore open the foil packaging around a family block of Cadburys before sitting back on the couch to wait for reinforcements to arrive. I had a lot of pondering to do about my future. I didn’t think I’d have the stomach to sleep in that room again. Merry bloody Christmas.
I also wondered how Mr and Mrs Rozniak were going to take the news their son Malcolm wouldn’t be around to partake of their seasonal ham this year.
Anna shares her house in Australia with her husband, a dog, a tank full of tropical fish and is now down to two teenagers out of seven children still living at home. She juggles her days between that lot and work, sketching portraits, writing, reading and chasing her own tail. Any wonder her fantasies include living on an unchartered, deserted island. Anna blogs here.