Archive for February, 2013

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Dirk Cuban had blood on his hands – it dribbled inexorably downwards towards his sobering reflection, spiralling crimson welts in the shallow suburban puddles. An oncoming car tooted its horn and ploughed past, flicking muddy water lightly up his thigh.

He grimaced as he felt barbed wire grate against his ribcage, deep inside his jacket – the murder weapon, stinging like a wasp to be swatted. His sticky hands found it and tossed it lightly to the floor. Dirk stood alone, a silent killer in the calm autumn evening.

The whole dirty episode kept repeating itself in his head, a short scuffle and a long, pre-meditated strangulation. Stella – dead at last! There was something about that woman that always made his blood boil – it still did.

The kids were out when he got home, exactly how he’d planned it. Jessie was visiting her mother and Kate was in Paris with her boyfriend, living the twenty-something dream. As long as he had the house to himself, he didn’t give a damn.

Upstairs, Dirk ran a hot bath and slipped out of his bloody garments. The water seared like bleach and purified the scratches that Stella left behind on his grim wrists – a parting shot from the woman who still haunted him, some shadow behind his eyes.

The police found him fast asleep on the sofa, a bottle of Jack Daniel’s dangling precociously from his lips as his chest heaved with the effort of conversion. Dirk’s perpetually pale face had taken on a seasick hue and he snored heavily in a deep, drunken sleep.

Looks like we’ve got a live one, here. Is he breathing?

Yeah, he’ll be alright. Let’s book him.

Dirk’s legs buckled under his weight as two junior policemen escorted him to the waiting car. Meanwhile, the sergeant called for forensics – there was a lot of blood, and Stevenson found a body in the bathroom. Dirk Cuban’s story was over – for the metropolitan police force, it was only just beginning.

Words: 330

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“Jeez, 32 Euros is a lot just to get to the top of the tower” I said.

“But we’re here now, we might as well do it” she replied.

It’d been a long day under a late summer cerulean sky. We were weary after traipsing round piazzas and along canal banks

“Jim and I will use the steps to save some cash” but when we entered the darkness there was no access to stairs and the fee was to ascend by the lift packed with people of many nations.

Once at the top we could, through netting draped to keep the birds out, take in views of the city. In St Mark’s Square below us tourists sought shade in the shadows of the state buildings. In the Rialto, beautifully dressed Venetians went coolly about their business. On the lagoon, barges and speed boats ferried people to and fro on the ebb and flow of waters which glittered with the kiss of the sun. Long queues formed, past beggars and standard bearing prophets of doom, to enter the Byzantine Basilica where, under the altar the evangelist’s bones are supposed to rest.

They were brought to Venice in a barrel of pickled pig parts after being stolen by quick buck merchants visiting Alexandria in the 9th century. Or so the story goes. Everywhere there are doves, not white but plump, proud pigeons with collars of emerald and papal purple.

Looking up, inside the campanile but away from the bells, fixed to a wall is a stone plaque commemorating Galileo who, in Shakespeare’s time, demonstrated a telescope to the Doge as part of his heretical efforts to show that the earth moved around the sun.

“Don’t you think it’s remarkable to be here”, I say. “Standing on the same spot as a great man who shifted our perspective.”

And then I think of the first astronauts who, snapping photographs through the windows of their capsule could eclipse the goddess Gaia with their thumbnail.”

Words: 329

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‘You have to look stunning tonight,’ he repeated.

I stared at him with disbelief. I was shivering in bed with feverish flu and he wanted me to accompany him to his family dinner and look stunning.

‘You must be kidding, Mark. Can’t you see what state I’m in?’

‘Oh, come on, bloody pull yourself together. Don’t embarrass me before my whole family, especially my stupid brother and his perfect wife. I want them to be stunned, I want those envy looks from all of them. Wear the little Mango dress I bought you last week.’

The menacing tone of his voice unnerved me.

‘Look, Matt, what if I stayed at home tonight. You can introduce me when I get well.’
‘You’re perfectly fine. Be ready by six or find another boyfriend. I won’t let you ruin this.’

I couldn’t hold my tears back as he slammed the door behind him. I was a foreign student with little income and I had nowhere to go.

‘You have to look stunning.’ I kept replaying in my head.

So this was our relationship about. It’s all I’m worth, someone stunning in trendy clothes, someone he can parade around with like with a newly bought car.

By six, I was ready, thick layers of foundation covering my red nose.

‘That‘s what I’m talking about,’ he smiled with appreciation. ‘You see, baby, just had to make an effort.’

His family was lovely. After the meal his mum offered me a cup of coffee on the terrace. She looked at me sympathetically.

‘My dear, you’re ill. You should have stayed at home.’

A weary “sorry” was all I could say.

‘You are like a bunch of withered flowers, Clara. Once stunning, still wearing the signs of its formal beauty. Still wonderful from a distance. But for those who look closer, it’s dried out, lost its soul, dying. Leave him, dear. As soon as you can.’

Words: 320

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