Some meetings finish with coffee and a chat. Others, with an axe in the face. And when the deal goes sour, there’s always a body to dispose of. Lucky, then, that it’s raining and everyone’s staying indoors…
The rain’s coming down like Robert Downey Jr during the missing years. Actually, I don’t think he ever came down. Either way, it’s pissing it down outside, bashing against the car windscreen, warning me away. I wish I could listen to it. I wish I could heed the warning and huddle in here with the heater on and my feet dry and warm.
But the body’s not moving itself and time’s running out. I sniff, feeling the snot rattle in my throat. I imagine I can feel it in my lungs, shaking about in there, deciding whether to settle and bring on another week in bed. It’s touch and go at the best of times. I should have stayed in LA.
But an Englishman can never stay away for long, not one who loves his country. And I love this place, no matter that it’s always sodding well raining. How can you not love a place where the policemen don’t have guns and, despite rain being the most common form of weather here, still everyone stays indoors and hides their heads when it does?
It makes disposing of bodies inordinately easy. Well, not easy as such, but far simpler than bunging them in the concrete foundations of skyscrapers and overpasses in the pitch black whilst wearing a bulletproof jacket and a mask. Not that I’ve ever done that.
With one final groan, I yank the hood of my jacket up and climb out of the car. The rain bashes me in the face like Old Darren’s baseball bat and I cover as much of it as I can with both arms. I should go home and leave it in the garage overnight. There really isn’t any hurry, it’s not going anywhere.
I chuckle and shake my head, then turn my back to the rain. It sounds like memories, battering the wax of my jacket, taking me back to life before the States, when things were simple and involved money instead of bodies. In those days, business meetings took place in pubs, not fields miles from bloody anywhere. And they rarely ended with the swing of an axe.
I should never have gone. I should never have left England. I’d be high up by now, sitting in some lush office somewhere, pretending to run something legit. Instead, I’m a delivery boy for the sickest piece of shit I’ve ever met.
I scowl, straightening. My back’s still burning from dragging this poor bastard half a mile to the car. Maybe I should have stayed in LA. They liked the accent there, it was easy. So were the girls.
But Anna’s here. And she waited. I shake my head as I pop the boot. Waited four years for someone she didn’t even know was coming back. Stupid girl. Still, can’t help loving her. Makes me wonder why I even went.
I wrapped him up when we reached the car, but I want to keep my plastic sheet. It’s handy and that stuff doesn’t come cheap. One last look around, but what’s the point? The rain’s getting harder, driving nails into the ground, so anyone out in it’s eyes down, hoods up. Or they’re in their cars, putting all their attention into not skidding or hitting the deep puddles.
His corpse rolls over like emptying fish out of a supermarket bag, flopping and flapping until it’s just a body. I leave the bag over his head. I’m not squeamish, I’ve no problems seeing what I did to his face, but there’s plenty of blood and my boot’s staying clean.
Darren isn’t one for paying for valeting or any of that shit, never has been. He runs zero hour contracts. When he’s not running zero life contracts, of course.
The body comes out head first and splashes into the mud. I can handle a little mud. There was plenty of it thrown around just before I left. Plenty of shit, too, about what I’d done. No one knew the truth, though. Still don’t, not even Anna. They don’t need to, it was between me and Scarlet. And she ain’t talking anymore.
I grab him by the feet and start dragging. I know the route like the backs of my hands, so I can keep my eyes up for anyone out walking their dogs. They don’t come out this far, not enough footpaths, but you never know. And a dog’ll smell it. There’s no one, though. These woods are dead, in more ways than one.
The pool’s waiting for me. Used to be a swamp, when Old Darren was young Darren and we’d to come out here together. Not anymore, though. Now the water’s up around the tree stumps, flowing this way and that. One day, many years from now, it’ll dry out and someone’ll find it. Someone’ll find the remnants of the bodies and the papers, the jewels we couldn’t shift, and the weapons we could no longer risk using. They’ll find the shoes and feet still in ‘em from them that tried to leave the game. Who knows, they might even find Scarlet’s tongue, though I figured a fox probably had that first night it was out here. Although, you don’t see many animals round the pool.
The stones are still in place. They were here when Old Darren’s granddad showed us the spot and haven’t moved an inch. Of course, they’re a few inches below the waterline nowadays, but I remember them anyway. And my boots don’t give a monkeys about the water.
I step out, dragging him behind me, using the water and the mud to ease his passage. I’m surrounded by water, reflections in a constant state of flux as the rain rattles down and sneaks through the trees. I could be in the everglades. I liked them, made some good friends out there. Once they showed me what alligators did to body parts, I wondered why all the gangsters in the world don’t live there.
But this here pool is just as good. I reach the edge of the Hole and pause. I always pause at this point. I should say something, some words to make it alright. It’s not alright, of course, and never will be. But I came to terms with that years ago. Easier than losing sleep.
I drag him round me, bracing my back against a tree worn smooth from that very action. Then, with one final heave, the body’s over the hole. I used to run at this point, try to escape before it happened. Now I make myself stay.
The water bubbles, the maelstrom rising instead of falling. Then the tentacles emerge. They come slow, today. Maybe it doesn’t like the rain either. One long green limb wraps around his neck whilst another pulls the bag off. I get a glimpse of his face, nose and left eye cratered where I hit him with the axe. Then another tentacle wraps over it and pulses as it sucks the blood in through the tiny mouths that lie all along the underside.
More come until the body’s vanished, wrapped up by the massive green tendrils. It pulses again and I squeeze my eyes closed. Old Darren’s granddad made me watch, once. He held me here, staring until I saw the teeth, hundreds of tiny sharp teeth piercing the skin, making way for the tongue that plunges into the wound and sucks. And it’s not just one. In every sucker along every tentacle, there’s another mouth.
The pulsing lasts for seconds, though it seems much longer. Then, with a flex like a body builder showing the girls what all his hard work’s been for, the tentacles fly apart and tear the body to shreds. Empty of blood, dozens of scraps of flesh and bone rain down into the Hole and sink without trace.
I edge away from the pool, every footfall measured and checked. Not many know about this, but more have known and fallen, than know now. Me and Old Darren are the last ones that know. And Scarlet, of course. But she’s not talking so much anymore.
Maybe I should go see her. The hospital’s pretty loose with visiting hours, especially for the ones in jackets. I can still hear her screaming, still see the sucker marks on her arm. And I can still feel her tongue plunging into the flesh of my neck. I shiver and my foot slips on the stone.
I cling to a tree as my heart bashes my rib cage. I ain’t falling. Well, not into the Hole, anyway. I fell a long time ago, round about the time me, Darren and Scarlet swore to keep her change a secret. Well, me and Darren swore. She wasn’t willing, but then, it wasn’t much up to her. If she’d told, the Hole would have been found. And where else am I gonna put the bodies?
The rain’s still falling when I reach the car. I stamp the mud off my boots as I take one last glance back into the forest. I can feel it, though I don’t believe in any of that shit. But I can, like sun cream drying on my skin. I settle myself into the car and let out a long breath. I’ve gotta go tell Darren the meeting didn’t go so well. I scowl, start the engine, and pull away.
Maybe after that, I’ll go visit Scarlet.