Tom Leins

Murderers I Have Known

The first time I see Lucius Lamont he is wearing a nylon stalking mask and a pair of greasy jeans. There is a snail-trail of fresh semen down his right leg. At best, he looks like Tailgunner centrefold material on a particularly bad month. At worst, he looks like the kind of guy who advertises his services at the back of the magazine, and ends up handcuffing you to a radiator and stealing your wallet. Hell, what do I know? I only buy it for the fucking articles…

My claw hammer craters his nylon-sheathed skull as he opens the door, and I bundle him into the dingy hallway, away from the prying eyes of the other sheltered accommodation shit-bags. The sagging floorboards feel as soft as shit beneath my boots. I kick him down the dank passage and he moans like a fat hooker, curling into a foetal ball on the exposed wood.

I don’t see the switchblade until it is wedged between my ribs, turning my sweaty t-shirt the colour of cheap lipstick. He laughs, but through the mangled bone and fabric it sounds like someone wanking into a verruca sock. Me? I don’t have too much to fucking laugh about…

***

Four days earlier.

The sky above the Dirty Lemon was the colour of diseased lungs. Fat clouds swirled above the pub, and the bronchial sky erupted as I pushed through the double-doors – bullets of rain thudding into the wheelchair ramp behind me.

Remy Cornish was sat adjacent to the cigarette machine, perched awkwardly on his mid-range mobility scooter. He chose the meeting place – the only pub in Paignton with a ramp – but it was no hardship on my part – I was coming here anyway…

I ordered a pint of Kronenbourg from Spacey Tracey and sat down opposite Remy. A thick, pissy stench hung in the air above him, and even the pub’s cigarette fug couldn’t mask it. Presumably showering has been a problem since Franco Moretti took his fucking kneecaps…

He made half-hearted speech-marks in the air with his sausage-like fingers as he told me that his “niece” Claudette was missing. Wanted me to find her. He passed me a photograph. It was a typical small-town glamour shot: badly lit and barely legal. She was a toothy brunette with small, uneven breasts. She didn’t so much have blowjob lips as gob-job gums. I felt my cock twitch, took Remy’s money and finished my pint. In that order.

***

I didn’t find Remy’s “niece” – the harbour master did. Wedged behind a dumpster that was overflowing with fish guts. The Herald Express nicknamed the killer ‘The Cartographer’, because he carefully wrapped each one of his victims’ bodies in old maps. Claudette was the fourth victim. She even looked pretty in the autopsy photo. No tattoos. No piercings. No life in her dead eyes. She had been wrapped in a map of Paignton; her spine was very slightly curved – just like Hyde Road.

I tried to give Remy his money back, but he decided to renegotiate our contract instead. Find the motherfucker responsible and deliver him to his portakabin up at Paignton Yards. His bloodshot eyes were so red-raw that they look like flesh-wounds. I nodded and slipped the money back into my jacket pocket. An honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay.

***

The lead landed right in my lap, just like a cracked-out lap-dancer…

I met David Cummings outside Foxy Booze. He was wearing a denim jacket with a sheepskin collar. He had the word ‘Mum’ tattooed across his throat. It looked new. And infected.

He chuckled when he saw me.

“I heard you died.”

“You look disappointed.”

He laughed even louder.

He smoked two high-tar cigarettes in quick succession as he spilled the beans. Said he was in the cop-shop being processed for affray – he had been caught on CCTV beating a man with the metal bar from a dumbbell – when he heard the story.

While he was in the holding tank a guy named Lucius Lamont was cut loose due to a lack of evidence. The desk sergeants – Benson and Hedges – had been drinking brandy, and blabbed to Cummings that the skinny prick re-lacing his shoes in the police station lobby was the fucking Cartographer.

***

When I rip off his nylon mask, I see that Lucius has grey hair shaved to stubble and a few pubic-looking beard hairs along his crooked jaw. He is skinny like a stray dog, and it is hard to believe that a man so frail could be responsible for those strangled, mangled bodies.

He glares at me through his left eye – his crumpled right eye socket is already matted with dark, drying blood. He grins nastily, as I probe the knife-wound in my gut.

“You’re so full of doubt I can fucking smell it,” he lisps.

I shrug. The only thing I can smell is the wet stink of shit and blood.

“Is there another girl in the house?”

He shrugs.

“If you move I will kill you, you know that, don’t you?”

He shrugs again.

“I’m not afraid. Death is something that happens to other people.”

I trudge out of the room, checking the rest of the house as quickly as possible. Inside the third room I try is a teenage girl. She has been handcuffed to the rusty iron headboard. A stack of mouldy looking ordinance survey maps have been stacked neatly on the bedside table beside her.

She screams silently when she sees me, eyes pleading. Her left eye-socket has been broken and a single bloody tear slides down her badly bruised cheek.

I place my blood-soaked hammer on the floor and hold my hands up, trying to make myself look as unthreatening as possible.

I rip the parcel tape off her mouth, and remove the stained Y-fronts that have been wedged inside her mouth.

“Wh-wh-who are you?”

I consider answering, but grunt instead. Then I turn sharply and stomp back towards the lounge.

Lamont has replaced the nylon mask, but removed his filthy jeans. He is slumped against the wall, trying to masturbate with bloody fingers.

I weigh the gore-streaked hammer in my left hand, holding my pulsing guts in with my right. I swap hands and the hammer feels blood-slick against my palm.

I raise it high above my head, hoping that I don’t kill him – mainly because Remy will want his fucking money back…

He looks up at me expectantly, but doesn’t bother to stop playing with himself.

Crunch.

Fuck it.

Death is something that happens to other people…

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