Vengeance is MineSeptember 25, 2018
It was as if it was you that had been wronged. Windswept and bemused, you sauntered out of the courtroom and across to the waiting cameras. As if it had been you that had suffered injustice, indignity, injury.
When a not guilty verdict is read, people expect the victim’s family to crumble, their hopes dashed, their energy sapped. It wasn’t like that for me. Court was just one way of seeing justice done. Granted, it was the easiest way, but not the only way, and certainly not the most satisfying. They say justice is blind, but a rag over my eyes is a piece of self-indulgence that I simply don’t have time for. My daughter wasn’t blind when you did what you did, and nor were you.
You’re good in front of the press, I’ll give you that. Easy on the eye and self-effacing, you’ve mastered the air of innocent bemusement. Sure, let’s have a court case if you really want. It’s an inconvenience, yes, but I’d much rather that than you harbor any lingering doubts about my innocence. Let’s get it all out there in the open. For the family. Devious little snake.
In the few fleeting, dismissive glances you threw my way in the courtroom, you must have had me pegged much as you had my daughter: lower-middle class, not one of life’s great thinkers, won’t put up a fight. That was your second mistake. Your first, of course, was leaving your fingerprint on her locket. You had me wrong, friend. You took my bland expression for shock rather than resignation, my trembling hand for weakness rather than barely-suppressed rage.
Prison was the best you could have hoped for, my lad. Four walls tight around you every night, three square meals a day, and even a bit of protection from the guards if you were willing to put up with a limp and an arsehole like the Channel Tunnel. Now, on the outside, you’re mine.
We’ll let the dust settle, of course. Get you away from those cameras and the reporters. Eventually, you’ll discover this blog post. Perhaps a concerned family member will alert you. Maybe it will come through the local press, their attention caught on a slow news day. Perhaps the police will even manage to trace the author. I might even serve time. Prison doesn’t hold the same fears for me as it does for you; once you’ve been fucked by the press, the judiciary, and by life itself, a thick-set prison warder doesn’t seem so bad. Eventually, I’ll be released, and when I am I will come for you.
The fear might begin slowly for you. I wouldn’t know; I’ll never be scared again, not like I was the night I got that phone call. It may be that you have half a second’s pause before leaving the house after dark – that pause that my daughter never had reason to adopt. You’ll still leave, sure, but not without a glance around you whilst locking the door. Not without scanning the parked vehicles for a silhouette waiting behind a wheel.
You’ll go on your nights out, of course, your stag dos and your Christmas parties. For the most part, it will be fine. You’ll flirt and fuck, never a muddled, beery thought given to my girl in the woods, but sooner or later, it will be time to leave.
On your journey home, stumbling slightly and with the cold air sobering you up, the din of the town will quieten. Your footsteps will seem louder in your ears. The pools of light beneath the lampposts will shrink, the darkness between them yawning and impenetrable. How you’ll wish for a friend on the road then. How you’ll hurry as you walk up your garden path, key trembling ever so slightly in your hand as it scratches around the lock.
In time, of course, it will grow. Something that strong, seated that deeply, always grows. Soon, I’ll be everywhere. I’ll be every time you choose to take a taxi home rather than walk, every knock on the door that you weren’t expecting. I’ll be every groan in the pipes as you are falling asleep, every rattle of a door when the wind blows. That cold shudder that causes you to look up at an empty window? I’ll have just left. That guy sitting silently in the cubicle next door as you take a shit? You’d better shit faster, son. Soon you’ll be wracked by your own imagination, tortured by your own inventiveness as I hunt you. I will hunt you.
I often think of how helpless she must have been, right there at the end when her heart was pounding and her pupils contracted with fear. There must have been a moment, a single point in time when she realised that you were too strong for her. Maybe she froze. Maybe it was sheer exhaustion, the lactic acid rinsing her muscles after the struggle. I don’t know. I never got to ask her, you see. I promise you, though, I promise that you’ll tell me what it felt like.
There was a lot of talk about forgiveness at the funeral. You can kiss that goodbye right now. We’ll go somewhere quiet, you and me. There will be plenty of time to get to know each other, and I’ll cherish those moments. Your body will be to me as hers was to you – a playground, somewhere to experiment. Where you stifled her screams, I will only seek to amplify yours. They will ring around the crumbling rafters of our little hidey-hole like choral music. You’ll sing your confession of course, but that isn’t really the point. The point is for me to feel good again, and this is the only way I can imagine myself feeling anything at all. With every metal screw twisted into bone, with every rivulet of blood running down a rusty blade, with every whimpered beg for mercy pushed out from between shattered teeth and oil-soaked rags, I will feel the strength returning to me.
Vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord. That’s another thing they said at the funeral. Not if you don’t make good use of it, it’s not.by
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Matthew Richardson is a doctoral student and public-sector worker who lives in Stewarton, Scotland. A lucky husband and proud father, he has previously been published in Gold Dust magazine, Literally Stories, Near to the Knuckle, McStorytellers, Penny Shorts, Soft Cartel, and Shooter. Matthew tweets at @mjrichardso0 and blogs at www.matthewjrichardson.com.