A (Halloween) Story For Sunday: The Endless Sleep by Paul D. Brazill

ONE

Anita watches the dowdy girl shuffle through the group of smartly dressed young men, carrying a big green bag and dragging her club foot behind her.

The girl struggles onto the bar stool, making sure that her lank, brown hair hangs down to cover her scars. She vainly tries  to attract the attention of the barman, who is flirting with a beautiful waitress. And then the dowdy girl ties back her hair to reveal the scars that lattice her face and the barman rushes towards her with disgust and fear in his eyes.

Anita feels a shiver rip through her as the dowdy girl smiles. She turns and sees the red faced and red haired man in the expensive suit tumble out of the toilet toward a group of Heehaws. She listens  as they talk about cars and houses and making a killing in The City.  She hears them laugh about the  Ukrainian whore they’d used like a toy, like a blow up doll. They  say they’d covered  her with mayonnaise and pushed her out of the ginger one’s limousine, leaving  her naked in the street.

Anita listens to them talk and bray. She hears them draw straws to find out who is going to try and pork the pig in the corner. The cripple that looks like Frankenstein’s daughter.

Anita watches. She listens. But does nothing. She supposes that’s what ghosts do. That the dead bear witness.

A white flash.

Anita is outside the ginger one’s car.  The car park is deserted except  for the limousine. She can’t remember getting there. She never can. It’s like a dream. Except Anita knows that this is real. She doesn’t sleep anymore. She is always awake. Always.
She sees the dowdy girl in the back seat of the car.  On her knees between the ginger man’s legs.

She  hears him abuse her, threaten her.

And then she sees the knife in the girl’s hand and hears the ginger man scream. The snow starts to fall like confetti  and the dowdy girl giggles like a child.

TWO

It’s spring.  There’s blossom on the trees.  It reminds Anita of Japan.  Singing in the karaoke bar with the Japanese rock star.  The nights that never ended.

The dowdy girl is outside a bookshop. Anita sees her tie back her hair, pick up her bag and walk in.

A white flash.

Inside  the shop. The clink of wine glasses. Chatter. Laughter.

The dowdy girl is talking to a suntanned, handsome man. A  writer.  He is telling stories, anecdotes. Laughing at himself. The audience- mostly women- laugh too. The dowdy girl asks a question. The writer laughs. They all laugh.

A white flash.

A hotel  room. The writer is drunk. He sits on the bed with his shoes in his hands. The dowdy girl is next to him. He says:  I really don’t mind the scars. She grins. He lays back. Closes  his eyes. She takes the knife from her bag.

Anita feels cold.

THREE

A suburban  house. Suburban  street.  People are   having barbecues on their lawn. Sunbathing. The man and woman  drive away in the big black car.  They shout: be good. The teenage boy and girl, twins, smile at their parents and then turn and glare at the babysitter. The  dowdy girl.

A white  flash.

The twins are laughing at the dowdy girl. Making  ugly faces.  Mimicking  her limp.

They go upstairs. Screeching  with laughter. The dowdy girl takes a CD from her bag. Puts it on.

She takes a revolver from her coat as the song plays.

Robert Gordon. ‘The Endless Sleep.’

Anita feels frozen. And she wonders if the dowdy girl knows that  she is there. Watching.  This  girl with the limp. With the scars.

This girl. Her daughter.

The girl that she had  tried to drown in the bath one drunken, drug fuelled night. The girl Anita had always  blamed for  men leaving.  For her career ending. For her life collapsing.

The girl that took revenge on her mother in a Phoenix hotel room. Threw  her over the balcony. Broke  her neck . And toppled after her.

A white  flash.

A bedroom.  Messy.  Posters on the wall. Beer cans.

The song plays down stairs.Over and over again.

The twins are cowering on the bed. Screaming. The dowdy girl is smiling. Pointing the gun.

And again, Anita bears witness.

(c) Paul D. Brazill

The Endless Sleep previously appeared at Flashes In The Dark

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