Part 1: FacebookUser Too
It was now time to do the business. I’d waited for the last hour crouched behind the large pyracantha bush Caroline G kept by her back door. I knew it was there even before I found out where she lived. She would want it to be nice and dark before my visit. Them career types like her wouldn’t want the neighbours to see them mixing with the likes of me. Thank heavens for Facebook. The message she left for me in her update said her roommate was leaving for the airport at 6 pm, for a flight to Tuscany. It was now three hours later and pitch black outside. What was it she said on her last tweet? ‘Making dinner, then washing dishes in sink 2nite. Dishwasher broken and stupid h/mate won’t help get it fixed.’
She’s a smart girl, she is. She knew I’d been watching, keeping an eye on her profile and stuff, waiting for the right time, the right message to tell me when she was ready. You can’t force love. It just happens, like. Everyone knows that. Two weeks ago when she updated her status to ‘single’ I knew she would arrange this meeting. And if my calculations were right, the twelve used pads and three heat packs in the bin meant that her timing was perfect.
I took one deep breath, heart drumming inside my chest, and carefully peered out from behind the prickly bush. My mum’s got a pyracantha in her back garden, but the needles were half the size of these monster ones here. Caroline G would have to do something about the thorny scratches I got on the side of my face, but not now. This would be nice and slow. That’s the way them girls like it aha, aha.
Whoops! Close one! She was standing at the sink, washing up like she said she would be. She looked right at me, nodded, then went on as if nothing happened. That was my cue. I had to wait until she was finished; until she went upstairs for her bath, then make my way inside the flat. They usually leave me a key or an open back door or window. I never go round the front coz they lock up tight round there. I know my place, me. When nice girls like her show an interest, you can’t be too pushy. They want to call the shots, so you got to let them. There’s trouble otherwise.
I have a purpose and I do my job well. When they’re hurting, I help drain the pain away. It’s like a release, what I do. I sort of make them whole again. Nobody does it better, el oh el. Like they say on Facebook and twitter and such, el oh el. I never quite get that though. Like, how can everything make you laugh out loud? I’m not a prude or anything like that, mind. But not everything is sooo funny. We used to put a little smiley face when we were growing up. I think that’s better than that el oh el rubbish.
Hang on. Kitchen lights just went out. Here we go. Under the mat... above the door....Where did she leave the key? I have to admit, I like the games and all, even though it’s sometimes hard for me to work out puzzles and stuff. I’m more of a sporty type. Well, I used to be. I was really good at football in primary school. The next Maradona, I was. I reckon I could run faster and control the ball waay better than he could. I let him have the fame for it though. I live my life private, you know? And with the hand thing and all that afterwards.... Mental! Not worth it, really.
Where’s that key? Under a stone... wait... once it was under a loose pavement slab. Classic! This is the good part to the build up. To be honest, I don’t like the fighting parts too much, especially with them fat girls. You know the way they have to pretend they don’t want to get the needle and all that. This right here, the build up, this was one of the good parts.
I could hear water running down the drain, she was probably using the sink or getting ready for her bath or something like that. Good stuff. I like bath nights. If only I could find the stupid key.
Bingo! The shed’s unlocked. That’s a good sign. That’s my girl. That’s where she would’ve left it. Silly me. I could’ve waited in there if I wasn’t so nervous about the whole thing. Missed it completely.
I feel sick with the excitement bubbling up inside me. Water is splashing in there. She’s probably already in the bath. Couldn’t resist coming up straight away when I found she’d left the back door key in an empty paint can in the shed. I was like, woah. Smiles bursting out every inch of my face. I’d packed my tiny backpack with a special gift tonight. Caroline G was special because, well, because she was special. All them girls I meet on Facebook are special.
Doctor Regan said I shouldn’t be spending so much time on the computer. That I should go out and find some real friends. What does she know, like? Facebook girls are real. For one thing, they tell you more about themselves than real girls do. I know loads about Caroline G. All her friends say Caroline G this and Caroline G that. But I know what her last name really is. I know her mum and her brother. They send her messages all the time. I’m not stupid, right. I seen her brother’s last name. It’s not difficult to work out. I added him as a friend on Facebook a few weeks ago, but he’s in Peru or somewhere rubbish like that, and he didn’t even add me back. What can I expect though, from a big time journalist who looks like that celebrity racing car man. What’s his name? That black one. Or, no, maybe he’s actually half-caste. I also know that Caroline G’s mum calls her Carrie, and I know her birthday and everything.
Her ex. Now, he’s one of them big shot types. Literally. Name’s Jake. He’s got a huge, black Doberman, and a shiny black BMW, but he never uses it when he’s parked outside her flat in the middle of the night. He’s got a dark blue Ford Fiesta for that. I wonder what he’s compensating for with such big car. A little man with a dog called Doodles can raise all types of questions, if you ask me. He went on a skiing trip after they broke up, and had all these big smiley pictures posted up on his profile page as his avatar. One for each day of the week. What an idiot. Some men don’t know how to treat women. But we don’t need him anymore. Caroline G has got me now.
It was after this skiing trip when I noticed how much closer we had become. She would drop hints for me so I could know where she was going to be, and stuff. I started following her on twitter and she let me into her life more than ever. She knew I like curry, so she told me when she was going for a curry night with her girlfriends. I knew the restaurant, so it was easy to meet up, really. She came and sat right opposite me. I smiled at her and she smiled right back. I knew we were right for each other from that very moment. Even though she didn’t know who I was, and had never seen my picture – not my real one anyway – it was like destiny had brought us together.
Deep breath now, before I open the bathroom door and see her.
‘Hi, Caroline G.’
Part 2: Caroline G
‘I don’t think so, Jake. You’re such an idiot.’
‘You’re lucky I can’t reach down this phone and slap you in the face, Caroline. Where did you learn to talk to me like that?’
‘And you wonder I kicked you out.’
‘I moved out. No female kicks me out. And I am coming over, like it or not. I’ve got things to say to you and you will listen.'
‘I’ve got nothing to say to you, Jake. We’re finished. I’m not scared of you anymore. I’m moving on with what dignity I have left.’
‘This is funny. You’re funny. That’s exactly what you said when we came back from Mali on our millennium trip. Look, I’m taking Doodles for a walk. See you at 10. Don’t worry about waiting by the door on your hands and knees. I’ve still got my own keys.’
‘I’ve changed the locks, you idiot. You won’t get in.’
‘No, you didn’t! You wouldn’t, baby. Not you. We’ve already talked about what could happen if you do. You’re a smart girl. We can’t have your staff finding out that their boss in her fancy office and high heel shoes, with ‘targets’ to meet, is one of those little help-me-please-I’m-so-abused girlfriends when she’s at home, can we? Ha, ha. You know you’re mine, baby. It stays that way.’
‘Ten o’clock, sweetheart. Me and Doodles are coming over for a visit. Get the wine ready. We have things to celebrate.’
This sink will be clean, all dishes washed and put away when they find me. Everything in its place. Vertical cuts are far better than the horizontal ones. Those are for people who’re too chicken to go through with it. Nice and neat, no cleaning up after. Just drain the bath, is all they’ll have to do. Ten years is enough. This is not happening anymore. I’m done.
A black eye can be hidden with make-up. A broken rib can be easily dismissed as ‘too much fun’ on holiday. But how do you hide hundreds of needle pricks on your face, in your eyes, all over your body, after your fiancé pushes you into a giant pyracantha bush when he gets mad. Drags you down the stairs, out of the house, and into the bush, just so he get his kicks by watching you sit in the bath and tweeze hundreds of thorns out of your skin. It’s all cleaner and neater in the bath. No hoovering to do afterwards. It’s such an innocent looking shrub out there, wrestling with the wind. I should burn the stupid thing, but I won’t bother. I won’t cry either. No, I won’t cry.
Bathing for the last time feels strangely peaceful. It must be perfect when they find me. Legs and armpits have all been shaved. Jake’s old razor with the removable blade was just what I needed. I don’t want to have to make several cuts. The scent behind my ears will last until they wash my body, perfect and smooth. Ten minutes soak, just ten more minutes.
‘Hi, Caroline G.’
Part 3: Facebook user too
I seen the recognition in her eyes when I grabbed hold of her mouth and pressed hard. Hard and tight. I told you. She planned all this. Right up to this very moment. She likes it clean. I know that as well as anyone else. This is why she wants to do this in the bath. She’s not a screamer. That’s one thing I didn’t plan for. All my other exes screamed their heads off. They knew how to excite me. I suppose Caroline G will learn. We’ve got time. All the time in the world, really. We could learn stuff together. She said she once she wondered what it would feel like to be in a coma and hear everything going on around you. And not able to speak and stuff. I could arrange that.
She put her hands to cover herself up when I turned around to get my little back pack. I will get rid of her pain the right way. For her, I’ll use a brand new needle. My gift to her. If she wanted the coma thing, we could do that too. Maybe. I never quite got that bit right before.
‘I’ll take my hands away now. Right. Be calm, everything’s gonna to be alright.’
She nodded. She understood.
‘Put your arm out, Caroline G.’
‘How do you know my name? Please, what are you doing to me? Please don’t hurt me. Just take what you want.’
She knew our game. She played it just right.
You have to get the needle in just right. One of my exes had such small veins, it took me like ten minutes just to insert it. Eventually, I had to use a vein in her foot. Silly cow. The messages she left for me on Facebook were always about how cold she was feeling. Shut up already, I said. I did take a nice fleece blanket over to her flat when I visited. I know how to be a gentleman, me. She was the hardest one. It took a long time for her release. A long time. And it didn’t end nice. But that was way back when I was still learning. I’ll be alright tonight. Apparently, which I only found out later on Google, low blood pressure means the blood takes a long time to drain.
That’s no good, is it? For release you got to have a complete drain. Complete. Bleed all the bad love out. Add a drop of mine in, then bleed the good love in. That’s my plan anyway, but that sort of thing takes practice, as you well know. That release is just what Caroline G needed. She knew it too. She smiled when she gave me her arm. The needle went in all nice and smooth. See? I’m learning with each one. I’m getting better all the time. Now we wait.
‘Singing makes it go faster. Sing something, Caroline G.’
‘What? What do you want me to sing?’
‘Anything you like. While I bleed the bad love out.’
I knelt beside the bath, lay the blood bag on the floor and waited with her. I’d heard better singing voices than hers, to be honest. But she chose a good song. Can’t beat Michael Jackson, no day. I’ll miss him, I will. I wonder what killed him in the end. Everything went so quiet, like, all of a sudden. Someone must be hiding something, no doubt. I crossed my legs and sat down. Bleeding love takes a long time. We could be here for a while.
She’d clenched her jaw when I stuck the needle in her vein. She was happy that it was me doing it and not one of them doctors down at Accident and Emergency. I seen them stick people in the arm without even looking at their faces. Everyone is just a victim to them, another person for me to wheel away to the mortuary, just another corpse. But I always see the fright in patients’ eyes. When they’re on my stretcher, they’re in my care. They don’t look at me. No one does. Doctor this and doctor that are always more important than the man behind the stretcher. Alive in one direction, dead in the other. I seen them, and that fish look in their eyes. But I’ll show everyone. I may be just a porter, but I possess the power to heal too. It’s a natural gift. Runs in my veins - literally.
Sometimes my voice gets louder than I want it to.
She jumped out of her skin, splashing the front of my jumper with bath water. I leaned over and pushed her head under the water a little. Just to calm her down a bit. She likes water, she does. I caught her scent when I got close to her. She smelled like... like... what was it she told me on Twitter, she bought?
‘Bought some DKNY – the apple version – today.’
I let her back up. She stared at me with that same sort of fish look in her eyes while I changed the blood bags. She understands.
‘I went to the chemist that very afternoon you told me about DKNY. Sprayed some on my wrists. Trying to save a bit of money for us to go away on a skiing trip, my Caroline G, so I didn’t buy it or anything. It’s a ladies’ perfume anyway. I don’t know how to ski, but I suppose I can learn. Been going to the chemist every afternoon since. Been spraying the DKNY on my wrists. Am wearing some now. Here.’
She smelled my wrists and looked up to me and smiled. Such a sweet smile she has. It was the first thing I noticed about her when we found each other on Facebook. I smiled back. The whiteness in her face was beginning to show. It would soon be time.
Part 4: Caroline G
‘Hi, Caroline G.’
His hands were around my nose and mouth before I could say anything. My pulse beat hard against my neck and I wondered for a split second if there was enough bubbles in the water to stop him seeing my nakedness.
I must not scream. Keep calm. I’ve got to keep calm and do as he says. Whoever he is, I’ve got to keep calm, tell him where my bank cards are.
‘Put your arm out, Caroline G.’
‘Please don’t hurt me. Take whatever you want.’
Wouldn’t it be better for him to just do it? I may have chickened out at the last minute. Instant death by an instant burglar happening by. ‘What are the chances, Caroline? You always get what you want, Caroline. Golden girl, Caroline.’ Jake’s voice clicked inside my head. A switch tripped, and then dying wasn’t what I wanted to do today. Jake wasn’t going to get what he wanted, not today anyway.
‘Beat it’ had been playing inside my head all day. It’s an appropriate song. The needle hurt, but I suppose chopping my wrists up would’ve hurt even worse. The crack-head had probably only ever used a needle to pump drugs in his arm. But at least he’s not injecting me with anything. A new, packaged needle. I should be alright. One bag of blood. He’ll leave and I’ll be fine. Some bizarre robbery this is.
(What are the chances, Caroline?)
I eyed the razor on the side of the bath and images of CSI and a tub of red water flashed across my mind. I felt as though I’d had a bottle of red wine poured down my throat, stumbling, stumbling, fading...Please, let it be just one bag.
His black jumper burst before my vision and before I could take a breath his hands were on my face pushing, pushing. Before my last breath, he let me go, and air filled my lungs in weak, tiny gulps. Is he changing the bag?
‘Am wearing some DKNY today.’
He forced his hands before my face and fear punched a fist into my throat. There were wild zigzag cuts cascading in every direction on both his wrists. He’s going to do that to me! I looked deep into his face for the first time and saw madness so complete, his eyes no longer looked outward, but within.
He must have seen my panic because even in my blurred vision, I saw him smile.
I should fight, I should wake up, but darkness and peace had come to claim my soul. Silent, peace, no more pain.
‘Who’re you?’ There’s movement, sounds, tousling, maybe a scream, maybe two, then Doodles’ wet tongue on my face.
Hands on my neck. Feeling, prodding. (What are the chances, Caroline?)
Scluuppp of draining water.
Something - warm and dry my front.
‘...you’ll feel a sharp prick now.’ More needles.
Something – warm and dry – soft under me.
Voices floating in the ceiling.
...Thank heavens for Jake.’
Part 1: FacebookUser Too