The front door of the pub was brightly lit. Punters swaggered in and out, she smiled at them. Their reaction to her depended on the makeup of the group; gangs of youths would generally come back with course comments, lewd jokes and laughter. Couples would scurry past, wanting her to become invisible. They were unwilling to let her into their pleasant evening, a scab on their romance. Some single blokes were kind and would spare her a quick smile and a shake of the head. Then there were the others, those who would stop, glance around and if they were unobserved would question her, “How much dahlin’? What are ya offerin’?”
“Twenty five here. I can go with you though.”
“Don’t you have a place?” She would shake her head when they asked her that. She didn’t even have a place to lay her head that was hers and hers alone, how could she have a place to take them? They didn’t understand. They didn’t care. This was a momentary temptation for some of them, but the thought of dirty sex in an alley beside the pub didn’t hole enough appeal and so they’d sneer at her and return to their quest for alcohol and football.
As he watched her he felt sad. He thought about the life that she’d been forced to lead, the masters that she answered to and the sordid and demeaning way that she was made to behave. It was time for him to move now and as he began the job he was warmed by the thought of taking her away from this. He would end this need to sell her body, finish this, sleazy, unseemly existence. She wouldn’t end up like his mum, drunk and drugged, spending her last moments choking on vomit in a grimy squat. No, he would save this girl. It was what made it all worthwhile, the hours of planning, the effort and the pollution of his soul that these jobs required.
The money was useful, the money made his gran comfortable, but even if there was no payment he knew that this would have been his life’s work. He was their saviour, the avenging seraph for these shades in their doorways.
She came to him easily as he had known she would. He had called to her quietly, “In the alley sweetheart, over here.” She twisted her head towards the sound, her eyes were wary but lit with a glimmer of hope. He’d lit a cigarette and as he sucked on it the red glow at the end drew her in, a moth to his flame. She came to him softly, hutching the little bag higher on a bony shoulder her stacked heels stuttering a little on the dark paving,. “’Ello, where are you. I can’t see you.”
“Here in the alley, over here, come on. I don’t want my mates to see me.” She laughed a little.
“Oh so, shy boy you, yes?”
“That’s it, will you come to my car? I don’t want to do it in an alley. I’ll pay you extra.” She shrugged. It wasn’t an unusual request, it was warmer in a car anyway, more comfortable and if he had a car then he would probably have some money.
“Yes, is okay. Where is car, it is in car park, here by the pub?”
“No, it’s over here, a bit away. Come on I’ll walk you there.” By now she had come alongside him but in the dark could see only the light of his face and the glow of the cigarette as he handed it to her, letting her take a drag. His arm snaked around the narrow waist and he pulled her close, she struggled a little, trying to draw away, trying to keep control until she could see him properly.
“Aw come on love, it’s not far.” He used the pressure from his encircling arm to drive her forward, she was willing but some sixth sense tensed her body. He knew the action now had to be quick, to keep her moving on. “Come on dahlin’ get a move on, You’ve got me hot. How much do you charge?”
“In your car I charge more, in your car is thirty pounds.”
“Okay, great.” By now they were moving forward at a fair pace. He kept slightly behind, pushing her ahead. She tried to turn and look at him but he moved her faster. Now they were nearing the car, parked in the dark street, “There, that car there. Okay?”
She nodded and scuttled on, could feel him tense beside her. He’d be quick, was already excited. She grinned to herself, maybe her luck was in, it could be over quickly and then he might walk her back to the pub. It was dark here and she didn’t fancy being on her own. “You walk me back after, yes?”
“Yes, I’ll look after you afterwards, don’t you worry.”
With the reassurance, she relaxed a little, took longer strides and covered the distance to the car in less than a minute. She turned to him, leaning back against the metal, starting to slide the denim skirt up over skinny thighs.
At first the reality didn’t register. That there was something wrong connected with some deeper part of her brain but for a moment it was simply an instinctive, animal fear. Then she saw the glint of the blade. The sight of it followed so very quickly with the flood of warm fluid on her belly informed her and with the knowledge came brief, profound pain.
He had been quick though, merciful. He was surprisingly strong, the stringy muscles flexed and tensed as he dragged the knife across her stomach. There was a gush of blood and he sprung back away from the surge. Reaching, stretching his arms he lowered her gently, steadying her dying body as it slid down the smooth metal of the car side. She sprawled in the gutter and he bent and cut again twice, slicing through the aorta, speeding the thing along. “Hush now, hush, soon be over, don’t be afraid nearly done.”
Her fear filled eyes bulged with tears for a moment but it didn’t last long, the light in them faded quickly and she was gone. It had been clean and easy and now the real work began. He stored away the smell of blood and the sight of her panicked face. He would recall them later, when the rest of the business was finished. He knew that he could close his eyes and bring it all back and then, safe in his room he would take the pleasure from it.
For now though he worked smoothly, professionally. First of all he had to take a picture. He was always glad when this part was over. The instant of bright light from the phone was one of the most dangerous moments but he had to have proof. His clients needed proof and he would send the image off via many servers to an adress he had been given. That done the boot lid popped open and he reached inside. First he took out a great roll of catering weight cling film. He knelt behind her, the roll in his right hand. He kept away from most of the blood, propped her against his knees and then, starting at her head, he began to roll it round and round the body. As the flesh was firmed by the enrobing of plastic film it became easier to handle, she was thin and small and by the time he reached her legs she had become a firm cylinder, he could move her without too much trouble. The arms had crossed over the torso a little as he wrapped and rolled the plastic. Her face was twisted and distorted by the pressure, the nose pressed sideways towards flattened cheeks. It took three rolls to encompass the whole body. He had wrapped her bag into the parcel and he included the shoes, forcing them back onto her feet from where they had fallen. Everything was inside the package now and he hoisted it into the boot. The polythene was already spread and he swaddled her, folding and tucking. Because of the amount of blood on her top half he had wrapped many layers around her upper body and the film was almost opaque with just a glint of pink in the creases. Round her lower parts the wrapping was thinner and the legs had only enough to keep them together, part of the whole, and to make it easier later. He took a moment, breathed deeply, it had gone well.
He reached over the top of her and grabbed the fifty litre container of liquid. As he splashed it out into the gutter the smell of bleach wafted to him. He used the flow of the water to usher the pink fluid towards the drain. He had parked near to the grid and the sound of the tinkling water evidenced this part of the cleaning exercise. Once the gutter was sluiced he released the hand brake and pushed the car forward. The big torch made a bright cone of light and he didn’t want to use it for long but had to check round quickly. It was unlikely that anyone would search here but there was no point taking chances. He was sure he’d been quick. There hadn’t been a chance to drop anything and he was still covered completely with his overalls, bloodied now but serving to contain any fibres or hairs loosened by the activity. As sure as he could be that there was nothing left he lay down a small square of plastic carpet protector, he stood on it before he ripped off the coveralls and overshoes. He wrapped the whole together with plastic film before tucking them inside the polythene with the girl. He climbed into the car and started the engine; slowly he drew away, first gear. At hearse speed he bore her away, his cling wrapped victim, stowed in the boot. He had checked the weather forecast before finally deciding on tonight. There would be rain before morning. By the time they began to search, if they ever did, then nature would have finished the job completely. There would be no evidence of her, no reminder of her brief terror. Now though he had the rest to do and he needed to move, there were many miles to cover and he had to be finished while it was still dark