Billy frowned, irritated when the doorbell chimed. He hit ‘save’ and hurried to open the door. He loathed being interrupted mid-write, but Maisie was shopping for a dinner party later and the kids were at school. He opened the door, grouchy and unprepared when the young man standing on his porch held up a cd and grinned.
“I think we need to have a chat, Mr Jessop.”
“I don’t have time for this. I’m busy”
Billy made to shut the door, but a sneakered foot jammed it and the kid continued.
“Writing a new novel, Mr Jessop? I did enjoy the last one. Topped the New York bestsellers list for eight week straight, right? I understand it even better now I know where you get your inspiration. “
The cd was waved again and Billy felt the first fingers of uneasy tickle his spine. Maybe it was just another crazy fan of his serial killer novels, or maybe it was something more. Reluctantly he let the kid in and directed him to the lounge.
“What is it you want? Signed stuff? I can do that. An exclusive for your college newspaper? Shoot me some questions. I just want you gone.”
The kid dumped himself onto a sofa, his grin broader, tapping the cd against his knee forcing Billy to keep taking furtive glances at it.
“Like you wanted Janice Miles gone?”
Billy lost all his air, the name a punch to his gut. He dropped into an armchair, mouthing words which were only silence.
“Or Peter Harding? Or Ella Mecchin? How about Don Grace? A writer lost for words? There’s novel.”
He chuckled at his own jokes whilst Billy finally found some calm.
“What do you know, and how?”
The kid spun the cd on his finger, well aware of Billy’s intense interest.
“Remember those cd’s you sold on Nusic Magpie?” Billy nodded but he figured he knew what was coming. It certainly explained why the searches of his files and office had turned up empty, “Oughta take more care, Mr Jessop. Guess you put the cd in the wrong case. Made for interesting reading when I put it in my laptop. I was expecting Disturbed; instead I got the practice notes of a serial killer.”
“It’s not what it looks like. It’s just research.”
“Allow me to quote, if you will indulge me. It was so riveting I committed it all to memory:
‘Janice Miles, November 3rd, 2000 – Stabbed in the gut. Lots of screaming so remember to muffle her. Took a long time to bleed out; have Garrett use a tarp. Bled all over the boot. Decided to cut loses. Dumped car in Greebecker Quarry, body still in boot. Used brick to hold down pedal. Need to write details before I forget.’
I’ll spare you that part, although I’m pretty sure they’re all still in your head. Or we could chat about Don Grace. Let me see;
‘Don Grace, November 3rd 2013 – Slashed femoral, so much blood spray. Removed internal organs and skin. Made a butterfly by draping his skin over his arms. Perfect for Garret’s style. Wondering if I should change dump site soon. Four bodies is a lot for one drowned quarry. Need to get home and start writing.’
Who’d a thunk it, huh? Garret Marconi, a serial killer beloved by millions in four smash-hit novels, gets his inspiration from the dry runs undertaken by his creator. Or maybe you are Garrett, huh, Billy? Same day every year. Is that a habit now? Or is it significant?”
Billy rose and began to pace, his exterior cowed, fretful, what the kid wanted to see.
“It’s my birthday.”
“Strange presents you choose there, Billy. So, what’s this cd worth to you, Mr Writer? What is silence worth?”
“Name your price.”
“I’m not a greedy man by nature, so how about a million a year, for the rest of my life?”
“Done. I’ll write you a cheque.”
The kid was out of his league, he just didn’t know it yet. Billy crossed to the ornate desk which held all his papers and his cheque book. He reached into the drawer, took out a beautiful platinum fountain pen, a gift from Maisie on the publication of his first Garret Marconi novel, and crossed back. He sat in the chair opposite the kid, making much of writing the cheque. He signed it with a flourish, made a tearing motion and arrowed the pen, nib first, across the intervening space. It pierced the kid’s right eye. As he started to scream, Billy shot across the room, shoved the pen deeper and held it until the kid quit convulsing.
By the time Maisie came back there was no sign of the visit, and she was delighted, if somewhat surprised, by all the housework Billy had done. The place was immaculate.
“You are a sweetheart! I know how much you need to get started on the novel. Thank you honey.”
“Yeah, I have the latest idea though, so it can wait a day. No trouble. I built the bonfire too; contacted one of my friends at the university and scared up an old skeleton from their science department. Kids’ll love when it shows up under the clothes.”
“The kids will love you. They do adore Bonfire Night, and what’s the 5th of November without a guy?”
They chuckled, admiring the guy perched atop the massive stack of wood. Behind the old clothes and the V mask, blood dripped gently into the wood, and an occasional ray from the setting sun made one hand glint, the one holding a scratched and ruined cd.
(Never trust a writer *chuckle*)