2015 WINCHESTER WRITERS’ FESTIVAL COMPETITION: FIRST PLACE – ALAN BRUNSTROM
To-do List (Week 36)
- Buy machete
- Pay school fees
- Send mum’s birthday card
- Take car to garage
- Renew National Trust membership
- Leave car in side street and walk to shop
- Pay cash
- Do not touch machete until it has been wrapped
- Tell the mechanic about that tapping noise in the driver’s side door
- Drive past burial sites on separate days
- Burn this note.
I scan the note for the umpteenth time, pondering the incongruity of having to commit something like this to paper in order to be sure of committing it to memory. Then I go out to the patio and put it on the barbecue, just to be sure.
‘The sausages are almost done,’ I call out to Sally.
‘Make sure they are,’ she calls back, with that tone she uses when she doubts my competence in basic tasks. She’s been using it noticeably more lately. Rather like my boss.
Not for the first time, I feel sadness at the different worlds we have come to inhabit. After fifteen years of marriage, how can she be so unaware of what is going on inside my head? My wife is focused on tidying the house and making sure the sausages are cooked, while I am focused on committing mass murder and making sure I don’t get caught. She has no idea. Not about that, at least. Does she have an inkling about the other?
I give one of the sausages a prod with the fork but it escapes me. I stab it with sudden anger, driving the twin prongs deep into it, skewering the little bastard until the juices run. Still bloody. Not quite there yet.
These outbursts of anger are new. I had a spectacular temper as an infant but my last forty years were a model of self-control. Then Ralph ambushed me in the management meeting and after all the months of goading and undermining, something inside me snapped. I was literally shaking as I said some things that his mother should have told him when he was an infant himself.
It had been cathartic but it left me isolated. The department split into two camps: the majority, who ducked their heads below the parapet: and the lackeys. Unfortunately the latter included the Head of Human Resources, who was too craven to stand up to him.
At what point did I decide to kill them? When did the thoughts that we all occasionally have turn into a concrete plan? I suppose it was the Lee Rigby and Charlie Hebdo killings. After that there was do doubting the trend towards acts of terrorism by individual crazies: and of course Ralph was a Jew.
It was the perfect cover. Who, when investigating mass murder by a deranged Islamic terrorist, would suspect a middle-aged businessman suffereing from early-onset Alzheimer’s?
It was fool-proof.
Just so long as I could remember it all.