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These flats have gone to the dogs.

I swear to you, the next time someone invites me to a jubilee dinner or cakes in the park or sandwiches in summer I will break their nose. Barbeques ain’t so bad, at least there’s some meat involved. Even then, it’s overcooked.

And another thing; bad enough that those idiots from the Pentecostal Church of Jesus and his Martyrs keep inviting me over, worse that they’re singing and praying every Sunday regular as clockwork. I don’t know what’s happened to this estate. Time was of a Sunday morning, you’d not hear a peep out of people; too hungover after Saturday night. Decent pickings then, you could find yourself something very interesting. But not now, no. Oh, and before I forget, that bloody woman in black lace with all that stuff over her eyes, her at 26b, telling everyone that she’s a witch. More like several witches if you ask me, a coven all rolled up in a black velvet carpet with a wig on top. She keeps whispering, ‘Blessed Be,’ to me. It’s enough to peel your wallpaper.

I don’t know why I bother. Everything changes, and I don’t like any of it. ‘Dot,’ laughs my social worker, ‘Dot, you’re so funny! It’s just people you know, just people.’ He chuckles and makes omelettes for me. Bloody omelettes! I like eggs, but they’re nothing on their own are they? He cuts up peppers and potatoes and onions, fries them and chucks them in the mix; sometimes he adds a bit of cheese. Not exactly inspiring but bless him he tries hard.

He thinks I should go into a home, and I tell him what I think of that. ‘One day you’ll come in and find me dead on the floor with my tongue sticking out,’ I say to him. ‘On that day, and not before is when I leave this place.’ He shakes his head and tells me I’ve a lot of life to live. He sounds like karaoke, or a pastor. I told him a dozen times I’ve kissed Old Nick’s arse and when I die it’s off to hell I go. He looks wide eyed for a second, then he laughs and says, ‘You wanna watch yourself Dot! People will think you’re mental! If you’re going to hell, why don’t you make an effort to enjoy life more right now?’ And I tell him, I reckon Hell will be better for me. More respectable than bloody Tower Hamlets, and the food’s got to be an improvement. That’s when he gives up, goes to the kitchen and starts whisking those eggs.

He changed my lights the last time he was here. A nice lad really.

Anyhow, Halloween. Oh yes, another improvement, this time from the bleedin’ states. Kids dress up and try to bully you for sweets. Quite funny really, and this time I was looking forward to it. There they were, running around the estate trick or treating, and sure enough, when my doorbell rang, I was ready.

‘Trick or treat!’ They yelled. Now, see, I ain’t as mobile as I used to be, so I put on my best grandma voice and say, ‘Just lift the latch and come in!’ Course, the little gannets love this, cos they come in, eat some sweets and start nosing around ever so carefully to see what they can nick. The door moved, and sure enough there were three of them. I’d made some muffins, covered in chocolate and pink icing and put them on a plate on the table. The kids looked a bit disappointed.

‘Got any chocolate?’ Said one.

‘Yes, dearie,’ I told him, ‘In the muffins. They’re very good. Have as many as you want.’ One was a little skeleton, one was a werewolf and one had black and white make-up on his face. Two of them walked to the table, lifted their masks and ate, while one started looking around my kitchen, then he tiptoed out to my bedroom. Honestly, they think you’re stupid. I heard him clattering around in there, opening my drawers.

‘These are good, Missus, ‘ said the little skeleton.

‘Thank you boy,’ I smiled at him, ‘Take one out to your friend, there’s a love. I don’t know what he’s doing out there.’ The little thing smiled and took a cake out. A young werewolf avoided my gaze while he stuffed his face. I just watched him for a while, maybe too long, as he squirmed a bit.

‘ How old are you?’ He said. I suppose I must look a sight in my nightie, long yellow nails and my hair white and straggly. I never cut it in all my life you know. They say your strength is in your hair. I smiled at him.

‘Hundreds of years,’ I said. He looked afraid, see, they’re little monsters but they’re believing little monsters.Very useful. Clattering from my bedroom, yes, I thought, they’ll have found my jewellery by now. Some of it’s all right, but they wouldn’t care. They’d be looking for a purse or something they could turn to use straight away. Confident too, taking their time. Good qualities to encourage; thoroughness and patience. I told them to come back and eat something, and they did, smirking to each other. Then they went back to my bedroom and the werewolf boy was left with me.

‘Are you a witch?’ He asked at last.

‘Yes,’ I told him. ‘My name is Dot.’

He looked down at the cakes and back at me.

‘You’ve put a spell on these cakes haven’t you?’

‘No son,’ I smiled as he sat himself down, ‘Ketamine. Lot less effort.’

His eyes marvelled at me for a moment. Then he called, ‘Terry!’

I told him not to be silly, ‘Shouting your mates’ names!’ I said, ‘I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that.’

And as he was rolling around a bit, I got up and closed the front door, locked it from the inside. Everything had gone quiet. He seemed peaceful enough, so I made my way to the bedroom and there they both were, lolling on the bed, jewellery and coins all over the floor. I told them they could stay the night. Young Mr Black and White wasn’t convinced, and staggered after me to the kitchen. I quelled his clamour by easing my breadknife between his ribs and up. See, they don’t make too much noise then, on account of their lungs being punctured. He made a few whistling sounds as I propped him over the sink, his blood pouring into the washing up bowl, and I stirred it for a moment to get rid of the stringy clots. Couple of minutes and I decided to sieve the rest later.

Going back in, the skeleton was trying to get out the front door, with his little croaky noises and fumbling kicks. I just grabbed the back of his hoody and persuaded him into the kitchen to join his friend. He made a small sound. Now, here’s the point at which I could have done something modern and stupid, like push his hand in a blender or stick his head in a microwave. Well, I don’t have a microwave. Those things are dangerous and all this drama isn’t my style. No, it was a simple old fashioned cleaver through the back of the head, fast, quiet. I guided his stumble to the bin, his head leaking into it.

Then there was the little werewolf sitting in the chair almost asleep. I came over with a clean knife, to make it quick, but he looked so quiet I waited a while, looking at his face. Touched his ribs. Not much to him. I could fatten him up, go a bit traditional. Or…a strange thought whispered through my head; I could let him go.

Tiny thing, hardly a peck on him. Little boy, just a little boy. They all strut it out there on the streets, trying to be something they ain’t. Little werewolf was no better than little skeleton or Mr Black and White. But.

I sat there for a while, until he woke. Then I showed him his friends who would never wake to join him and I taught him, all the while thinking, ‘Well Dot, this won’t endear you to Nick when you next see him. But you can’t please everyone.’

He learned to cut down the breast bone, to fillet and slice. He learned without complaint, and he wrapped it all in clingfilm, put everything away and cleaned my kitchen. I let him go.

So here we are, Monday late morning and soon my social worker will arrive. He’ll ring on the door and I’ll tell him to come in. He’ll walk in and make us both a cup of tea. Then he’ll talk about lunch, switch on the stove, and open my fridge.

And at last he’ll have something to put in those bloody omelettes.


I hope you liked Dot - unfortunately, not everyone's as tough as she is. Let's look after the vulnerable amongst us this winter, and have a fine fab snowseason!

Copyright and intellectual property Debbie Gallagher 2011 all rights reserved.


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 7th, 2012 08:59 am (UTC)
Nasty! :)
Feb. 7th, 2012 10:03 am (UTC)
Hey! You read it! Thank you! It was meant for Jude's 'Horror for Hunger' project but I think real life overtook that.

Nasty old Dot, eh? She'll outlast the flats she lives in!
Feb. 7th, 2012 10:20 pm (UTC)
Ugh. Well written but something I normally steer so far from; don't read murders/thrillers at all. Upset me because I have a little boy just like that. My little skeleton boy is called Josh. *shudders*
Feb. 7th, 2012 10:50 pm (UTC)
Brr! So sorry to upset you! Shall I change the name? In fairy tale worlds it makes all the difference; it's the kind of logic little girl Debbie understands perfectly.
Feb. 7th, 2012 10:59 pm (UTC)
Changed it anyway. Now the skelly boy is named 'Terry' after someone who paid my house a visit in the middle of the night last november.

Your little boy sleeps well in a world where Dot is just a story, and Mum and Dad are right *here*.

Lots of love


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )



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