The Habit

FOUR

He had made it back to the safety of his Chelsea hideaway but not without the odd moment. He always struggled to concentrate after the excitement of the drugs and the euphoria of being close to the edge. The following through and doing what millions of men dream of doing everyday but don’t because they haven’t got the balls! All men would love to rape a pretty bitch! But they would never follow through like me! He had panicked when he’d been exchanging the Golf and taxi, and accidentally set off the alarm in the garage. He had been feeling really paranoid as it was and the screaming siren made him drop his keys. He’d fumbled about for them and had finally managed to run in and turn off the alarm.
The Golf was now back in the basement and he allowed himself a smile as he got into the lift. As the lift doors opened on his floor, he was met by the music from his stereo, still blaring out. He grimaced as his head throbbed painfully in time with the beat. He had left the CD on repeat and the whole floor had been subjected to the entire Motorhead album over and over again. He checked his watch, eleven-twenty. He had been out for six hours. He laughed at the thought of the other residents pulling their hair out and the incessant complaints to the police. As he approached his flat he noticed an envelope sellotaped to the door. He unlocked the door and as he entered, ripped the envelope off and shut the door behind him.
The effects of the drugs were beginning to wear off and his headache was getting worse. He hated the fallout of coming down, it was the only side effect of his habit but he still felt the highs were worth it. Now, as he turned off the stereo and collapsed into his armchair, he wasn’t so sure. He felt dreadful. His head really hurt and he was tired and pissed off. He hadn’t eaten all day and his stomach was cramping, but he still wasn’t hungry. His jaw was beginning to ache, he had been clenching it for the last five hours and even now he found he couldn’t stop.
He recognised the handwriting on the envelope. It was from Mrs. Laidlaw, the interfering old battleaxe from across the hall. What the fuck did she want? She was a pain in the ass but seemed to like him for some unknown reason. As he didn’t want anyone to be suspicious, he made an effort to be nice. It proved very hard at times because she was so nosey, but he tried. He opened the letter. It was to inform him she had come to his defence when the police had threatened to break his door down. Mrs. Laidlaw had told them a ‘white lie’ and said she had a spare set of keys and she would find them and turn the music off. The police had left satisfied and Mrs. Laidlaw had prayed for his quick return. He had a stale box of Quality Street somewhere, the old bag won’t notice the sell by date, he chuckled. She’s probably in bed but what the fuck!
He knocked on her door and waited with the chocolates hidden behind his back.
‘Daniel, do you know what time it is?’ She looked at her watch and tightened the cord of her dressing gown. ‘What have you been up to? You look terrible. I should put you over my knee. Do you know I’ve had the police in here three times tonight?’ His sweet little, grey-haired neighbour began raising her voice. ‘Are you alright dear?’
‘Yes, I’m fine. Just had too many late nights this week. I’ve brought you a little something to say thanks for coming to my rescue earlier.’
‘How wonderful! Thank you very much.’ Her eyes lit up at the sight of the chocolates. ‘Would you like to come in for a cup of tea?’
‘I’m so tired. I won’t if you don’t mind. I am so sorry about my music this evening. I was late for dinner and just rushed out without realising my stereo was still on.’ He sounded very convincing.
‘Never mind me dear, I don’t mind. My hearing isn’t what it was and I told the policeman what a nice young man you were and how quiet you are normally. So I don’t think you have anything to worry about. Are you sure you won’t come in? I’ve got some lovely Dundee cake.’ She almost pleaded with him.
‘No thank you Mrs. Laidlaw, I’m off to bed. Good night.’
‘Good night Daniel.’
He wandered back into his flat and reached into his jacket pocket. He took out the roll of Fuji film, got himself a Bud Ice from the fridge and opened the door to his darkroom.
The darkroom and its annex were the favourite rooms in his flat. He spent most of his time in them, developing his latest shots, reliving many of his best memories and enlarging his best pictures. He walked through his photo lab and unlocked the door to his annex. He had the only key to the door. You can never be too careful. Too many nosey neighbours. He had turned the annex into a shrine of all his rape victims. On the long wall in front of him were photos of each of his seven victims. The photographs had all been taken in the back of his taxi. There were also close-ups of each of the girl’s vaginas. The pictures would be very distressing to anyone else. The girls were all obviously unconscious, with no expressions showing on their faces. He loved sitting there looking at his collage, he especially liked the close-ups, remembering how they had been unable to stop him. Underneath the photos there were details of where, when and how he had raped them. There was a photo of his taxi at the scene of each rape. There were spaces ready and waiting for the next victims. He was going to fill the wall.
One day somebody would find the annex and all his secrets would be out. That day was a long way off yet. He would only let himself be caught when he was ready, when he had finished his work. He was preparing the room so the police wouldn’t have to tie up any loose ends. He really wanted to be remembered. I will be the most famous rapist of this millennium and the next. Not Dan Crosby. Fuck Dan Crosby! He would surpass Dan Crosby’s record of sixteen victims. Until then, there was much work to be done.

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Copyright © 2002 Richard Armour