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967 Steps

by Prekosifa 

Posted: 26 June 2011
Word Count: 2299

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967 Steps

It was 967 steps to the small city park from my flat in East Ham. I counted them as I made my way here this morning.

The first day of the next decade.

New Years day.

There was something about the first day of any year that I found symbolic. It was a time to clear my head and ask forgiveness for the sins I had committed over the past twelve months, and to beg understanding for the sins I was about to commit over the next twelve. I kind of had it covered both ways, in case the inevitable should happen.

It was bitterly cold. Even though I was well wrapped up in a new heavy coat and body warmer (both Christmas presents), my head and ears were freezing, as too were the tips of my fingers.

The park was humanly deserted when I arrived except for a few hundred birds who were taking advantage of the makeshift pond that had appeared in the middle of the grass, a result of too much rainfall and the cold snap that followed it. It did indeed look like the coming of the new ice age. Pigeons, crows and gulls were all happily hanging out together. It looked like a truce had been made in the bird world on this most important of days.

I made my way over to the swings and sat down, making sure to dry the seat first, nothing worse than having a cold arse on a very cold day. I took out my handkerchief and had just wiped the seat dry when I noticed a woman walking towards me.

Dark hair mostly hidden under a beige bobble hat, large pretty brown eyes, and what looked like a good figure hidden under a long brown leather overcoat. Her Indian features were clear and her long expensive leather boots didn’t really fit in with the residents of this kind of locale. She was an outsider. She smiled as she approached and sat down next to me.

‘Happy New Year’ I said loudly, my smile welcoming her into my personal space.

‘Happy New Year’ she returned. ‘Do you mind if I sit here?’.

I shook my head and continued gazing into the heavens. It was nice to have company and I certainly didn’t mind the company of such a beautiful woman.

She broke the silence

‘New Year is such an interesting time. So much hope, so many dreams. Right now anything is possible’

She turned towards me, her eyes trying to penetrate my hard outer shell. She really was beautiful. She looked like an Egyptian queen from my school History books.

‘So you live local then?’ She asked.

Her accent was beautiful. South Indian with just a hint of the local, if I wasn’t mistaken.

‘This is my local park’. I finished. ‘How about you, you don’t dress ghetto so I’m guessing you’re a Christmas visitor’

‘Yes, kind of, I grew up round here and moved away a while ago’ she said

‘Sometimes it’s better to just stay away’ I replied.

More silence.

‘So what resolutions have you made?’ she asked

I turned towards her and smiled, thinking first what I was about to say. What resolutions had I made? None, as usual

‘I don’t believe in the whole resolution thing’ I started’ I more kind of ask for forgiveness and permission at the start of each new year, kind of a tradition with me’

‘Interesting! Forgiveness and permission for what?’ she asked.

‘Oh. For the bad things I have done over the past year and the things I am about to do’. I said that quite nonchalantly and could tell from the slight arch in her eyebrows that it had surprised her.

‘So what bad things have you done then?’ she asked, jokily. People always resorted to humour when they felt nervous.

I wasn’t usually in the habit of telling strangers about my profession, but there was something about this woman that made me feel like I could trust her. When she smiled, two feint dimples appeared on her cheeks. She seemed genuinely interested in what I had to say, a welcome appreciation for someone like me, who found himself alone so much of the time

I turned towards her, looked directly in her eyes and spoke.

‘I kill people’.

She laughed. I think she half expected me to laugh too. Me, laughing would tell her that I was joking but I didn’t laugh. I just looked at her and continued.

‘So you find that funny?, Now that’s interesting’ I said.

‘You’re joking me, of course. If you did kill people…why would you tell me, a total stranger’ she asked.

‘Partly because you are a total stranger, and partly because it is the New year, and as such I have to confess my sins to someone’

I looked around to show the barren-ness of our landscape to prove my point.

‘And you’re the only one here’.

She looked a bit nervous now.

‘What’s your name?’ I asked

She answered way too quickly so I figured she hadn’t lied.

‘Geeta’ she replied. Still in apparent shock.

I put out my hand for her to shake. She accepted.

‘Hi, I’m Marvellous Entwhistle’

‘Marvellous??’ she asked. She smiled. A beautiful smile.

‘Yes. I was christened Malcolm but people who meet me call me Marvellous’. I continued.

‘Why Marvellous??’ she asked.

‘Because I am very good at my job’ I replied.

She quickly removed her hand, placed it back on the chains of the swing and gently began rocking backwards and forwards. I imitated her movements and for the next few minutes we both rocked in silence, back and forth, forth and back.

One of the reasons I was so good at my job was because no one ever suspected me. I didn’t look like your typical serial killing psychopath. For a start I was a black man who wore glasses and was highly intelligent. I held down a good job and walked confidently. I found it easy to get a relationship with a woman and was currently dating several, I liked variation. My job in the city paid for my rent and minor extravagances like my X box and trips to the theatre, and my ‘other’ wage paid for my long holidays abroad, my interest in fine wines and my sanity. Women described me as charming, witty and good looking. I was a good catch for anyone. Mothers loved me and fathers wanted to be my best friend. I upset no one and acknowledged everyone. It was just the kind of guy that I was.

My Achilles heel though was money. I did like the things that money made possible. I would describe myself as a reluctant capitalist. In truth I would do my job for free because there was a certain desire that it still held for me. On top of that I never really saw it as killing people, merely speeding up their journey into the next life so that they could rectify the obvious mistakes they had made in this one. I was doing them a favour really, giving them the chance not to waste any more precious time by hanging around down here.

‘So who have you killed then, Mr Hitman? She asked.

Her question came out of the blue. I’d still imagined her being in shock from my earlier revelation. Then again, she hadn’t left yet. This probably meant that she didn’t believe me and would now ask me more questions just to make sure, to satisfy her own curiosity. Her smile told me she hoped I was joking.

‘Mr Abdul Patel, 34 Bootle Street, 1017 steps, November 14th 2009’

‘Why?’ she asked

‘He owed some people a lot of money’ I returned.

She stared at me incredulously. She wasn’t so sure if I was lying anymore. Was she really talking to a murderer?

‘How did you kill him?’ she continued, undettered, chest puffed up slightly. Cockiness should have been the eighth deadly sin.

‘I slit his throat, as requested’. I replied. matter-of-factly, mimicking with my hands across my throat as I did so, outmatching her new found bravery. ‘Then I cut out his tongue and stapled it to his lapel’.

I took out a packet of Murray Mints from my pocket and offered her one. She declined. A lot of people declined Murray mints but I found them to be a very underrated mint, especially good on cold days at warming you up and much nicer than a Fishermans friend.

‘I never had a problem with killing someone. It was the kind of task that came easy to me, exactly why I have no idea, I mean, it wasn’t as if as a youngster I derived great pleasure from pulling the legs of spiders or roasting slugs in the garden. These were pastimes that my brothers took great pleasure in performing, I on the other hand was more content with reading a Lewis Carroll story or watching a 1940’s musical on the television. Death actually found me by accident.

The first dead person I saw was Mr Granger who lived at 104, a few doors down from us. One day my friends and I realised that we hadn’t seen the elderly gentlemen who liked to take walks in the morning, for at least a week. His unopened post confirmed our suspicions. If he had gone away he would have told my mum, so we reasoned that he must still be in there. I lost the coin toss and was elected to climb through the bathroom window round the back to investigate. I found poor Mr Granger lying at the bottom of the stairs. He had taken a fall but was still alive. I reached for the phone to call someone but something stopped me. I was fascinated by his quick breaths and his passing in and out of consciousness. He looked like a deer wounded by a predator, just waiting to die. At that moment I understood why we put things out of their misery. Mr Granger after all was an old man. He couldn’t walk very fast and he wasn’t always nice to us neighbourhood kids. His cellar housed a collection of footballs, cricket balls, tennis balls and even a few Action men, anything that had by accident found its way into his garden.

I pondered over these points as I contemplated my next move.

I put my handkerchief in his mouth and waited for the inevitable to happen.

Who else have you killed, then? Her next question was expected. Her inquisitiveness was really her only flaw. Her inability to let a sleeping dog lie seemed to tie in with her questioning psyche. Yet she only probed deeper because she was scared. I had seen it all before.

‘Miss Pritti Anwar, 27 Dover Court, 1527 steps, Oct 21st 2009’.


‘She wanted to marry her real love. Her Father decided disowning her wasn’t quite good enough for the shame she brought on the family.

‘I think I saw that in the papers, didn’t the father get done for that?’ she asked

‘I told you I was good’ I replied. ‘Somehow fate always gets the right man’ I concluded. ‘By foul means or fair’.

‘How did you kill her? She asked.

‘Broke her neck. I let her Father behead her’.

She puked. I think she realised she wasn’t as strong as she thought.

‘I was only joking’ I continued. Chuckling under my breath.

‘What, about the murders?’ she asked

‘No, the beheading’. I replied. ‘I do my own dirty work’.

She was pacing now. In front of me. Agitated

‘So how many more are there?’ she continued

‘Quite a few, I kill every 24 days’

‘Since when?’ she asked

‘Ever since I started. There is a lot of work out there, especially in this area. There’s a lot of disgruntled people around here and faith and honour provides the backbone of the community’

I pushed myself on the swing and for a moment was airborne, at one with the birds flying high in the air. Her next question was so expected, I cut her off

‘So…who… ’
‘…was the last person I killed?’

‘Sunil Sharma, 12 Wood Lane, 1873 steps, 8th Dec 2009’


‘He was having sex with his daughter’

‘Probably deserved it’ she said, angrily.

‘Why do you say that?’ I replied

‘Hello! Rapes little girls!’ she said, mockingly. Sarcastically.

‘I didn’t say he raped her. I tend not to judge people. I just do what I am asked to do. Experience has shown me that people get up to all sorts of interesting…things behind closed doors’ I said

She went red when I said this.

‘You have mothers sleeping with sons, fathers sleeping with their daughters, women sleeping with their sisters husbands, married men paying for prostitutes, sibling rivalry. The list is continuous and endless.

I paused as I eyed her carefully. Our eyes met and she held my look. She had finally seen me.

‘So what is your secret?’ I asked

She stuttered, her words getting stuck in her throat. She realised the answer didn’t matter anymore.

She turned to run, terror marked all over her pretty face. Inquisitiveness can get you killed, so many questions, and then what? Now you know the answers, now what?

I gave her twenty paces and then shot her through the back of the head. Large calibre with silencer as requested, closed casket, definitely, as promised.

Her body hit the snow covered concrete face down with a dull thud. The birds took to the air.

I popped another Murray Mint in my mouth, pulled my collar tight around me, and began walking back home,

counting my paces as I went,


The End

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