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Damien Smethurst is a 40 year old professional procrastinator who escaped from the UK after the government closed his bar because people were having too much fun. He is supposed to be in the process of writing and editing three different books, but due to a severe allergy to technology his computers commit suicide every time he makes progress on this, so instead he can usually be found propping up bars in Prague whilst waiting for the technological curse to pass...Oh and one book out. And I guess for a link you can just use the Prague Writers Group website...                                             Or                                         

 He came out of the store and turned to his left, which was a good start as it meant he was walking away from me, and so it gave me at least a chance to launch a surprise attack.

I stood up in the doorway I'd been crouching in for the last twenty minutes or so, waiting for him to finish work. I looked around, made sure no-one was paying me any undue attention, and started to follow him.

He was a few hundred yards in front of me by now, but I knew it would only take me a little while to catch up. If I timed it right, there was an alleyway that he tended to cut through on his way home. At this time of night it should be deserted. All I had to do was be close enough to attack when the time came.

I pulled my hood down over my face, just in case he looked back and recognised me. Placing my hand in my pocket, I checked to make sure my weapon was still there and started to pull it out slowly. Only a hundred yards to the alleyway now, and I was still a fair way behind him. It was time to speed up a little.

I kept my hand in my pocket as I closed the distance. I already knew that when the time came I would be able to pull out the weapon and hit him in a smooth motion. The trick was to make sure not to pull it out too soon. I didn't want to arouse the suspicion of anyone watching me.

We got to the entry to the alleyway and he walked in, with me just a dozen or so paces behind him. He was oblivious to my presence. Or, if he did realise there was someone behind him, he didn’t see them as a threat. But then, he wouldn't. An action man super hero tough guy like him isn't going to feel threatened by anybody.

Six paces behind, five, four. I pulled my hand out of my pocket, revealing my weapon of choice. It was a bottle. A very heavy and very solid bottle. I was assuming it would shatter when I hit him with it, although to be honest I wasn’t going to be that bothered if it didn't.

I was couple of paces behind him now, and he started to realise something may be wrong. It was too late though. As he began to turn around I raised the bottle over my head and brought it down on top of his skull with as much force as I could manage.

I was expecting the bottle to smash, to hear a loud noise and see plenty of blood. All I heard was a dull thud, and then he dropped to the ground in front of me. I bent over him to feel for a pulse, but I couldn’t find one. Damn. I might have gone too far with this one, so I try to think for a minute how best to handle the situation.

I reached over him and turned him onto his back, then put my hand into the right front pocket of his jeans and remove his wallet. That's good. Now it's going to look like a mugging gone wrong. The next priority is a clean getaway. I walked on towards the opposite end of the alley to where I came in, as turning round could look suspicious later if there was anyone watching the entrance.

After about fifteen steps or so I stopped and turn back. I went back to him, lying there in the alleyway, and a quick look showed there were no sign of any marks or bruising as yet, which I don't think is a good sign for me. I picked up the bottle from where it fell at the side of him. Even the collision with the concrete pavement didn't break the damn thing.

I take another quick look around, but no-one watching me, and so I went back to the end of the alleyway, having first hidden the bottle in my pocket again. About half a mile down the road, I dropped the bottle into a dustbin, having first smashed it against the inside of the metal bin so it wouldn't arouse suspicion if it was found intact.

I then took the money out of his wallet and placed it into mine. I got on four different buses in the next half an hour, and eventually found one that was quiet enough for me to drop his wallet onto the floor without anyone knowing. I know it's going to be found, but it's just going to send the police off in the wrong direction as the bus wouldn’t go within even twenty miles of where I live. A few stops later I got off and made my way back into town.

By the time I got home, it was on the news already. A body found in an alleyway, looks like a mugging gone wrong. There are no clues as yet, and the police are appealing for witnesses. As I sit and watch the news, I think back on the events that led to me killing someone... - -

Anthony Jackson joined the company at the same time as me. From the moment I met him I didn't like him. I couldn't put my finger on what it was, as he was always pleasant to everyone and was certainly good at his job. There was just an air of smugness about him. Something that implied he was laughing at us all behind our backs.

I was also the only person that never quite got over that initial feeling of mistrust.

Things were probably not helped when I found out he was going out with Martina. She worked in Customer Services in our company, and the truth is from the moment I met her I had a huge crush on her.

Don't get me wrong. She wasn't a classic beauty or anything like that. She and her hair were short, her eyes were brown, and she was clearly not in perfect shape. The fact she wore glasses would also put a lot of guys off her, but I'm not like that.

Anyway, by the time her boyfriend Anthony joined the company, Martina and I were firm friends. We'd been out a few times for a drink after work, but it was strictly platonic between us. I'd have preferred it not to be, but I didn't see the point in rushing things as if she was interested in me in that way, I figured she'd let me know.

And then her boyfriend turned up, someone I disliked way before finding out he was involved with her. That maybe didn't help me get over my original feelings, but the original feelings were not even remotely jealousy related.

Things kind of carried on for a year or so with not much changing. Martina and I were still great friends, and I never bothered telling her my feelings about Anthony as I couldn’t really explain them anyway, even to myself.

I didn’t even say anything when I found out he was screwing around behind her back. In my experience women never accept something they don’t like, and it’s always the messenger that suffers, and I didn’t want to risk our friendship by telling her something she wasn’t ready to hear. Instead, I figured I'd just make sure I stayed friends with her so that I could be there to pick up the pieces when she eventually found out.

Which of course she did, and then she fell apart. And like the friend I was, I made sure I stayed around to help her out.

About a week after she broke up with Anthony she came out with me for a drink after work. We sat in the back room of the pub and just talked for a couple of hours, before I walked her to the bus stop like I always did. Once there she got all upset about going home alone and I gave her a hug, and the next thing I knew she was kissing me.

In other circumstances this would have been my dream come true, but right now it was wrong. I knew it was wrong, and I told her it was wrong. Then of course I had to go through the whole scene of 'I thought you liked me' and stuff.

At which point, like the true gentleman I am, I told her exactly how I felt about her. Then I explained that although I'd like nothing more than to be the guy she woke up to every morning, right now was the wrong time, place, and circumstances to start something like that. She needed to get over Anthony first, and then if she still wanted me to be something other than just a friend I'd more than be happy.

We separated that night with a hug and a peck on the cheek, and she thanked me for being so understanding and careful with her. We remained friends, but we never really managed to get beyond that. I know I made the right decision that night though.

Anyway, on with the tale. A week or so later when we all got paid, practically the whole company did what we always did on a Friday night and went to the pub to get wasted.

By now it was no surprise to anyone to see Martina and I go and sit in a corner and just chat amongst ourselves. Friends did that kind of thing all the time, and it didn't take a rocket scientist to see that all we were was friends. Unfortunately, it wasn't a rocket scientist that was watching us that night.

It was Anthony. For about three hours he stood and stared and watched the two of us laughing and joking together. If I'd known this at the time I almost certainly would have done things differently that night, but things are always easier with hindsight.

At about ten o clock I walked Martina to the bus stop. It was a weekly ritual we had, like friends do. I made sure she got on the bus okay and then walked around the corner to my mothers pub for a few more pints.

I hadn't been in the pub for five minutes when the door opened and Anthony walked in. He didn't look happy about something, and to this day I wish I'd read the signs differently and not answered him truthfully when he asked where Martina was.

"She's on the bus on the way home. Why?"

He didn't answer, just stormed back out of the door and jumped into a taxi that was waiting for him outside.

It took me a few seconds to put two and two together, but as soon as I did I wasn't impressed with the answer I came up with. I sprinted out of the pub myself, and ran to try and get a taxi.

About twenty minutes later I pulled up outside Martina's house in the taxi. I had a look around but there were no lights on. I knocked on the door and got no answer. I put my ear to the door to see if I could hear anything inside, but there wasn’t any noise coming from the house.

I went around to the back of the house and followed the same routine, with the same results. The house was in darkness, doors were secure, no one was answering my knocking, and there were no sounds coming from inside.

I'd like to think that the conclusion I came to was the one everybody else would come to. Martina was asleep in bed, and Anthony had gone home once he’d found out she wasn't with me. It seemed a perfectly reasonable solution to me, so I headed home myself.

It was three weeks before I saw Martina again. Three weeks during which no-one knew where she was or what had happened to her. By the time she did come back to work, most of the bruising had gone, or the external bruising anyway. It was another month before she told me what had actually happened that night.

A few minutes after she got home she heard a knock on the door. Going to answer it, she paused for a second to ask who it was. It was Anthony, and he wanted to talk. At this time she still had strong feelings for him, so she let him in.

As soon as he was through the door, he punched her in the face. Closing the door behind him he proceeded to kick and punch her until she was unconscious. When she came around, she was upstairs in her bedroom and he'd gagged her and was raping her. In the background she could hear me knocking on the door, but the gag meant she couldn't cry out.

He spent most of the night doing unspeakable things to her, and then at about 5am he simply untied her and walked out of the room. It was three days before she could even bring herself to get out of bed, and another week before she could walk properly.

Anthony was arrested, interviewed, and then released without charge. One of the other girls from work gave him an alibi and claimed he'd been with her all night.

Six weeks later he did the same thing to the other girl, but she refused to press charges because she felt like an idiot for backing him up the first time. And she still loved him of course. Go figure. - -

I sat there watching the news and thought about Anthony Jackson. I hadn't meant to kill him, but the more I thought about it, the more I was glad he was dead. At least now he'd never be able to hurt another woman.

As for Martina, by this time she'd been married for three years. There were no kids yet, but she was hoping to be accepted for fertility treatment. She'd been sterile ever since that night of terror, but at least she’d found a guy that she loved and who loved her.

Unfortunately it wasn’t me, but at least I got some form of revenge for her, even though I can never tell her about it. Just in case.




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