By The Walrus
© 2013 David Jasmin-Green
A sweet looking old lady twisted with arthritis was struggling up the steps of flat twenty seven A with her meagre shopping as Maurice Campbell slammed the door of twenty seven B and turned his key in the lock. “Hello, Mrs. Faversham,” he said, treating the old dear to what she regarded as a plastic smile, and she smiled meekly back as the big black man marched off down the street.
For nearly twelve years Maurice had lived in the first floor flat of the terraced house, which was converted in the sixties. The old woman had occupied the ground floor for much longer, she moved there after she lost her husband to bowel cancer in the late nineteen eighties.
“Twelve years,” Fanny said, “and he's never heard a peep out of me, never known if I'm alive or dead, dancing the light fantastic or pushing up daisies. I never make a sound when he's at home, and I only wish he was as quiet.....
Twelve long years, and all he knows about me is my surname. Twelve bloody years, and the thoughtless shit has never knocked my door to ask how I'm faring or to offer to do a bit of shopping. Especially during the long, awful Fimbal winter when the snow was on the ground for the best part of three months and I sat in front of a tiny halogen heater on the lowest setting because I couldn't afford to run the central heating – that's if it still works.
And the previous summer, let's not forget, Maurice never even noticed the leaflets building up in my letterbox while I was confined in the Manor hospital for six weeks with viral pneumonia, six sodding weeks without a single visitor. The cold, callous bastard,” she muttered under her breath as she closed the door behind her. “Let's hope there's some bugger to watch over you when you get old.”
Rampton, Fanny's pretty black and white she-cat, was standing at the kitchen door mewing her head off and demanding to be fed. “All right, all right, I'm coming! You had a great chunk of chicken this morning left over from yesterday's dinner, you spoiled little madam, and you're moaning as if you've never been fed.” Fanny opened a tin of Kattomeat, spooned a generous helping into Rampton's bowl and popped the rest in the fridge, then she proceeded to put her shopping away.
“I don't know what I'm going to have for dinner today,” she told the cat. “Everything's getting so expensive, and when I wait for the staff to put things in the reduced section in the supermarket somebody always beats me to the best bargains. I'm getting old, Rampton, too old to function. And there's no way I'm going in a home..... No, I've made plans if it ever looks like coming to that.”
Fanny poured water into the kettle, which she placed on the back-burner of the gas stove to boil over a low flame. She had packed her electric kettle away years ago, and she rarely used the microwave or the hoover any more because she considered them far too expensive to run.
While she was waiting for the water to boil she went into the living room and turned on the TV. In another ten minutes she would be relaxing in her snug armchair, hopefully with Rampton on her lap, watching Dale Winton's Supermarket Sweep, which was her favourite show. Apart, maybe, from Jasper Carrot's Golden Balls. Or The Chaser – she rarely watched the soaps, but she loved her game shows. And, of course, anything to do with crime, especially murder; murder fascinated Fanny, it always had done.
“Rampton, where have you got to, you little monkey?” she called as she fiddled with the remote to find the correct channel. “Come on, sweetie, I want a bit of fuss. You're the only pleasure I have nowadays. I don't know what I'd do without you, I really don't.” When she had made a nice, strong cup of tea she took a packet of chocolate digestives from the cupboard and went to sit in her armchair. Rampton, thankfully, came out of her hiding place and jumped up onto the old woman's lap, purring contentedly.
“There, there,” Fanny crooned. “We'll get that nasty Maurice back for kicking you, my love, don't you worry. Not only is he ignorant of the needs of the elderly, it turns out he's cruel to defenceless animals, too. What sort of person would kick a harmless cat? I don't know what the world's coming to, I really don't. I suppose we're more or less ready to deal with Maurice Campbell.”
Some time later Maurice was searching for his keys when Mrs. Faversham called him from her window. “I say, Mr. Campbell, could you spare five minutes? Would you mind helping me out?”
“Sure,” Maurice said. “what's up?”
“I'm afraid my bath is blocked. I don't know what's the matter with it, it's never happened before.”
“It's probably just hair and soap, drainage pipes do get blocked sometimes. Listen, I'll just take my shopping inside and grab some caustic soda and a few tools, then I'll be right round.”
A little while later Maurice was leaning over Fanny's bath with a plunger, he didn't want to kneel down because the tiles were wet. The blockage shifted almost immediately, and the water began to spin down the plughole. “I'll just mix a little caustic soda and water now,” he said. “It'll clear out the build up of soap.”
As he leaned over the bath again Fanny placed the barrel of a .22 pistol against the back of his skull. “This is for hurting Rampton,” she growled, pumping two bullets into his brain.
Maurice gasped and tumbled forwards into the bath, his feet twitching for a few seconds, then he was still. “Excellent!” Fanny said to Rampton, who was watching from the hallway. “It's going to take a long time to slice that nasty Mr. Campbell up and get rid of the pieces. I'm too old for this, puddy-tat, this has to be the last one. Mind you, I believe I said that last time..... I think sixty three skulls packed in hat boxes in one's bedroom is enough victims for anyone – sixty four when I've prepared this one.”