Login   Sign Up 


Between the Eyes

by UpJohnny 

Posted: 03 March 2010
Word Count: 1420
Summary: A night time intuder. Someone from the past seeking revenge. Please read and comment.

Font Size

Printable Version
Print Double spaced

Henry bolted the bedroom door keeping the outside world at bay. The world on his side of the door had only a population of two; Henry and the slight figure sleeping in a single bed. Henry had been in this world before; just himself and this person. The darkness and silence were the same, although it was a different bedroom, another building and a different county.

The situation was also different. This time Henry was the trespasser and it was he that would be in control, the other person taking orders. Henry crept to the bedside pulled up a chair and switched on the bedside lamp.

The man remained asleep; his breathing shallow and quick. Each breath sounded as though it might be his last; rasping through a mucus lined windpipe into empasemic lungs before faintly spluttering out in a chorus of rattles. His lips had collapsed into toothless gums, his eyes sat deep into their sockets while eyebrows hung over the socket rim like a grey dishevelled hedgerow. Henry saw that he was almost bald apart from a few straggling isolated grey strands. And since he had seen him last, the years had sucked the life from his face, leaving it skeletal and wrapped in wafer thin skin.

He nudged the old man. Eyes remained closed. Then, with his forefinger, Henry poked his gaunt cheek. The eyes slowly opened. Henry moved closer staring deep into his eyes but they were not as he remembered. They were vague, almost childlike in their confused glances and the pupils milky from age and cataracts. Henry sighed, disappointed that he was not going to facedown the bloodshot and aroused eyes of ill intent he once knew and had recalled countless times during nightmares and sleepless nights.

What lay in bed was a pathetic imitation of a demon he once knew. The smell of an old man's incontinence filled Henry's nostrils. Time had got there first. It had morphed the monster from an overbearing beast to something that barely creased the bed. But Henry was on a mission. That was his top priority.

The old man's eyes began to close. 'Brother Thomas,' Henry shook his bony shoulder, 'Wake up.'

The brother's eyes focused on the late night intruder. He tried to speak but his toothless mouth only spluttered an incoherent mumble. Henry glanced to the bedside table. He saw a small glass of water with a set of false teeth immersed in it. Henry lifted the teeth, shook off the access water and handed them to Brother Thomas.

'Put these in. I can't understand a friggin' word.'

Grabbing the teeth with emaciated fingers, Brother Thomas complied. He gestured Henry to help lift him so he could sit up. He blinked at Henry then reached to the bedside table and lifted a pair of thick-lens spectacles, 'Who are you?'

'You don't remember? But then it's been such a long time, Brother. The last time we met, I was a young boy, from Ballymacginity Industrial School.'

Henry watched the old man's eyes shift right to left and back to right, searching the foggy catacombs of an old man's memory. His face remained blank, not registering; the neurons, long ago, had probably disconnected from that part of his memory bank.

'Maybe I can help you remember, Brother.'

From his jacket pocket, Henry retrieved a tobacco tin. He opened the lid and showed Brother Thomas a neat row of rolled cigarettes.

'Remember me now?'

Brother Thomas remained incognisant, his eyes as confused as when he wakened. Henry lifted out one cigarette, 'Here, take this.'

Brother Thomas obeyed.

'Look at it. It's perfect. There are no imperfections, no dents, the paper as smooth from tip to end, as good as a filtered fag, diameter, an eighth of an inch, the full length of it.'

Henry gripped Thomas by the wrist and pushed the scrawny hand towards the spectacles for a closer inspection, 'Look at the seam of the cigarette paper, perfectly horizontal, without fold or crease, just the way you taught me at Ballymaginity.'

'I think I can recall,' Thomas stuttered, but Henry saw that the brother's eyes told a different story.

'I need some help Brother Thomas. The other brothers, where are they now. I'd like to visit them and pay my respects.'

Thomas coughed, spitting phlegm onto his free hand.
Henry snatched the rolled cigarette, 'Brother Brian, Brother John, Brother Francis, where can I find them?'

'I don't know. I haven't been in their company for many years.'

Henry could feel anger rising deep inside and closed his eyes as he fought it back. He looked straight at Thomas, 'surely you keep in touch with one or two of them?'

Brother Thomas shuffled slightly, agitated. Although he still had no inkling who his night visitor was, he sensed, for his own safety, it would be better to give him what he requested and he would be left in peace.

'Open the table drawer I have an address book...'
Henry pulled the drawer out completely setting it on the bed and began rummaging through its contents. He tossed a figurine of Our Lady onto the bed, followed by Rosary beads and a worn pocket sized book of The New Testament.
'... It's very old. I'm sure they have all since moved on.'

Henry picked up the address book. Its cover was shabby and ringed by a coffee mug stain. The inside cover was signed by Brother Thomas and dated 1997. He began flicking through the pages. His eyes widened, 'there must be a hundred names.'

'Like I said, it's old.'

Henry slapped the book with his fingers, 'Ha! Brother Pius. Pius the Pimp!'

Thomas was startled by Henry's tone, 'Why are you doing this? You haven't told me your name.'

Henry looked up and slid the book into his jacket pocket, 'I'm Henry, Henry Austin. You still have no idea who I am?'

'You can keep this,' he handed back the rolled cigarette and produced a lighter from his trouser pocket.

'I don't smoke, haven't for a long time.'

'Light it!'

Thomas lit the cigarette and barked like an old car choking on cheap diesel. Henry walked to the bedroom door, his back to Thomas, 'Brother, do you remember what you did to me if the cigarettes were not up to your standard?'

Henry slowly turned, his right hand behind his thigh, shielding it from Thomas, 'I know you do remember.'
He came back to the bed, lifted his right hand. The nozzle of the gun, rigged with a silencer, pressed against the top of Thomas's nose and between the eyes. He paused for a second, waiting for the old man to recognise what was about to happen.

Thomas's eyes dripped tears as fear set it. He tried to speak but his top teeth slipped from the gums, falling onto his pyjama top.

'That's how my eyes looked when you came to me! This is how I felt. Are you pissing your pants? You stole my life!'

Before the old man could utter a word of regret, or a syllable of a prayer, Henry squeezed the trigger. Bone, blood and brain matter splattered the headboard and bedroom wall. A wisp of smoke floated from the entry wound. His expression frozen, the rattle from his chest ceased. Henry took the lit cigarette from the hand of the dead brother, picked off a piece of bone from its tip and inhaled deeply, 'Perfect as ever,' he said.

He sat on the bed for a moment before unscrewing the silencer. He placed the revolver back into its holster and wrapped the silencer in a handkerchief then slid it inside his jacket pocket. His hand caught on something and fell from the pocket.

Looking down to the floor he saw his badge glimmering from the light of the bedside lamp. He picked it up and rotated it to the lamp checking its markings hadn't been contaminated by carpet fluff or traces of the Brother's inners. After giving it a quick polish with his sleeve Henry looked at the shinning blue and gold emblem in the centre of the badge. It still looked as new as the first time he received it. The engravings 'Garda Síochána' stamped around its edges were also free from scrapes or flaws.

Henry slipped his badge back into his pocket and quietly left. Armed with a multitude of names and addresses - other targets, Henry regarded the interrogation of Brother Thomas was better than expected.

Favourite this work Favourite This Author

Comments by other Members

Becca at 17:35 on 04 March 2010  Report this post
Hi Martin, and welcome to the group. This is a grizzly tale, at least the graphic description of the shooting is. I did think you used Henry's name a bit too much, you could change some of them to 'he' where it would make sense.
I'm not sure about this, but empasemic doesn't look right, doesn't it have an 'h' after the 'p'?
There was one change of POV, but it could be easily put right, it was 'Thomas was startled by Henry's tone,...' Henry could see that he'd startled Thomas by his tone, or something of that sort.
I did emphasise with the MC, although he'd have been better of killing the brothers when they were much younger and still enjoying life, it seemed almost pointless to kill someone as old as that. Maybe there was a reason why he couldn't get to them earlier?

Crimsondelilah at 13:20 on 05 March 2010  Report this post
Hi Martin - This certainly packs a punch.
I like your opening - it kept me on my toes and I wanted to know more. I also like your description of Brother Thomas - I can see his face clearly. I think it's good you don't actually spell out what crimes Brother Thomas committed against your MC, leaving it to the reader to reach their own conclusion. It must have been terrible for him to want to kill an old man who doesn't remember.
I concur with Becca in that perhaps it might have been better to take his revenge on a younger Brother Thomas. I feel that I would empathise with your MC more if his victim was able to show remorse or not - to at least recall the incident.
Finally, others may think different but this reads like a scene in a novel to me - any plans to extend it?

UpJohnny at 14:44 on 05 March 2010  Report this post
Thanks for the comments folks. I think all your points are valid and correct. I have no plans to extends this piece but do plan to write a novel one day. Thanks again.

tec at 04:26 on 06 March 2010  Report this post
Hi Martin, this is very gripping stuff although I agree w/ the commenter above that it reads like part of a novel - it seems a beginning (or an end) to something much larger. I agree that you don't need to spell out the exact nature of Brother Thomas' crimes, but I did find myself wanting more details of Henry - how did he get here? how long did it take? does he have any remorse at the killing, seeing as Thomas is such an old man now with no memories of his past acts? The idea that Henry would kill Thomas w/o any second thoughts or hesitation, given how elderly and vulnerable he is, does make him a difficult MC to really sympathize with, or understand (at least it does for me). The idea that he's on some mission now to find and punish all these Brothers has some appeal (reminds me of Tarantino's Kill Bill movies!) but I didn't find myself invested enough in Henry to really care about this quest - that last line made me think he was a little psycho.

Also - another POV shift was : "Although he still had no inkling who his night visitor was, he sensed, for his own safety, it would be better to give him what he requested and he would be left in peace." This should be from Henry's perspective - "Thomas still looked at him without recognition, but he did what Henry asked. Maybe he thinks I'll leave him in peace, Henry thought... " Something along those lines.

thanks for sharing this

Indira at 12:40 on 08 March 2010  Report this post
Wo - chilling is right. Chilling and powerful. It seems so strongly felt.
I wonder if I agree with the others about Brother Thomas' age. If the MC's anger is so deep set that he has to kill the man, even when he is clearly dying ......


bjlangley at 03:02 on 12 March 2010  Report this post
Hi Martin, the descriptive detail in this works really well - particularly Brother Thomas as he's sleeping, and his ultimate grizzly end.

A couple of picky little things:
The repetition of different for a third time at the start of the second para jars a little - perhaps switch the second 'different' to 'another'?

Brother Thomas's line of dialogue, 'I don't know. I haven't been in their company for many years.' felt a bit too coherent for an old chap roused out of sleep.

It does feel as though it could be part of something bigger - introducing things like the badge at the end, giving us more of who Henry is suggest you've a bigger story to tell.

All the best,


fluffyduffy at 21:16 on 18 March 2010  Report this post
Hi Martin,

This was a powerful tale with some wonderful descriptions. I do however, agree with many of the comments above. But I just wonder about the MC's delay on his killing spree - was the reason that he had spent years simmering over his hatred before he snapped? Also I wonder if it would add more tension to the story if the old man did actually remembered the MC, realising why the MC was there.

Just an idea but I hope it helps.

Thank you for sharing this wonderful, gripping story.


To post comments you need to become a member. If you are already a member, please log in .