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The Shakespeare Killer

by scampmacmil 

Posted: 14 May 2014
Word Count: 2645
Summary: Any comments on this story appreciated. For obvious reasons my local writer's group chose Shakespeare as a recent title . I took a different tack from the rest of the group!

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Content Warning
This piece and/or subsequent comments may contain strong language.

                                           The Shakespeare Killer
            ‘Hi Alec, what are you looking so chuffed about?’
‘Oh hi Dad. I waited in for you. You know that essay I did on Shakespeare that you liked ?’
‘Yes it was really good.’
‘Well I won first prize for it at school today.’
‘Brilliant Batman, what a welcome home, give us a big hug son.’
            Malcolm sat quietly, reflecting. What a roller coaster life can be. It was only yesterday evening that he and Irene had been talking about how worried they were about their son Alec. He had changed hugely from the funny, outgoing, chatty,  wee lad to become an increasingly withdrawn, morose teenager. Now 14 years old Alec was taking little care with his clothes, appearance or personal hygiene. Yet he had always been so fastidious. They had wondered if he was ill and had planned to try to persuade him to see their Doctor.
            But now, what great news. Maybe this was the turning point they had dreamt of.
Perhaps the changes had been just due to the hormones surging through Alec’s fit young body causing these massive mood swings.
            It was 12 days later when Irene got the phone call from school. Alec had been found slumped in a toilet. His best mate had admitted the two of them had been trying out drugs.
            Now life entered a weird existence. Malcolm and Irene realised just how naïve and innocent they had been. They had never suspected any of their sons might have tried drugs and knew nothing about them. Soon they became used to going to visit Alec in the secure ward of the mental hospital. Used to seeing him strapped into protective clothing, in a padded cell to prevent self-harm. His company other desperately ill, mainly young people. Gradually the medication, counselling and skilled psychiatric support began, seemingly, to pay off. Things seemed to be making headway and they began looking forward to having their son back home again
            At last the welcome day came to take Alec home. Irene was working, so Malcolm took a day off and collected him. Alec was quiet, withdrawn, then started talking in a very emotional way about what fantastic parents they had been, how he could have never wished for a better Mum and Dad. How they should stop worrying about him now and that he loved them very much. Shortly after that, as Malcom accelerated past a petrol wagon on the dual carriageway Alec yelled out
                                                 ‘Love you Dad,’
threw open the door and leapt out in front of the lorry.
            After the nightmare of the funeral Irene became severely depressed. She resigned from work and started drinking heavily. Then one evening Malcolm came home to find her collapsed in a bamboo cane chair out in their garden. The empty bottle of pills lay on her lap.
            Geordie Cafferty leant back against his usual tree in the scrubland opposite the entrance to Longbenton High School. His shoulder satchel was stuffed with Grass, Bennies and Angel Dust. He reckoned that maybe in another 2 months he would have made enough to buy that sports car he had always yearned for.
            Geordie wondered what had happened to Alec, previously his best customer. It had been weeks since Alec had stopped coming round for a fix. A branch cracked.’ Oh great, about time, another customer at last. Then he gasped as a man wearing a mask like a King with a crown stepped in front of him pointing a gun. He was told to kneel, then the man used plastic ties on his wrists to secure him round the tree.
            Geordie kept yelling out,
‘What the fuck do you think you’re doing? Let me go you fucking bastard!’
            The silence made him even more frightened. The man removed Geordie’s satchel, emptied the takings from his pockets, then said,
‘Scum, you have just one chance to tell me where these drugs came from, from whom and when.’
            Sobbing now, Geordie said,
‘Oh God man, I can’t tell you, they’d kill me.’
‘Your choice scum, you can die now if you wish.’
            Geordie heard the click of the safety catch being removed then grunted with pain as the nozzle was firmly forced into his ear.
‘I will now count to 5. If you have not answered my questions I will blow your brains out.’
            After a sobbing Geordie had told all that he knew, the man said,
‘I am now going to cut off your thumb and forefinger as a permanent reminder to you never ever to deal in drugs again. I swear on my son’s life that if I ever see you anywhere near here again I will kill you painfully.
               Darass Hall is an expensive, supposedly exclusive, estate some 15 minutes drive NW of Newcastle. It is populated by senior executives, financial experts, consultants, football stars, academics, and successful business leaders. Amongst the latter, he so proclaims, is Ted Dixon, well known to the local CID as the most important drugs baron in the North East of England. His empire had grown over the years.  He was now supplying to the central belt of Scotland and increasingly into Manchester and Liverpool.  Ted had established a very well organised chain of employees so that he was supposedly remote from this lucrative, though filthy, trade.
            Ted was only too well aware that Geordie and two of his other people in the drugs chain had just disappeared. There was no obvious reason so he had arranged to meet with his immediate employees today to try to assess if any other drugs gang might be trying to muscle in to their territory. If so they would soon learn a harsh and damaging lesson.
           Ted got into his Merc coupe, and drove out of the quiet cul-de-sac. When he turned into a tree-lined avenue which led out onto the main road he braked sharply as an ambulance with flashing lights was skewed across the road. A man in paramedics’ uniform was waving to him to come over. Ted walked over towards the man then halted, shocked as the paramedic pulled out a gun and fired at him. He felt just a painful thud then collapsed as the drug took hold.
           When Ted came to he found himself firmly strapped to a patients’ bed in the ambulance. Outside it was quiet, just the sound of the wind in the trees and bird song. The back door opened and the paramedic entered now wearing a King’s costume mask.
Without saying a word he forced up Ted’s sleeve, then using a syringe injected the Pentathol truth serum into his vein. That evening the Northumbrian Police control centre in Ponteland received an anonymous call.
‘There is a body in Belsay woods, Grid Reference as follows.’
       Detective Sergeant Hazel Dixon, clad in white sterilised overalls, gloves and overshoes stood shaking her head. This was a weird one. The corpse had been propped up against a rowan tree. An old fashioned dagger had been stabbed into its heart. But strangest of all, a man’s shaving mirror had been secured in place before the body’s eyes.
         Len Davies was known in Liverpool as ‘The Barber.’ This was not due to any skill he had as a hairdresser but to his unpleasant reputation for brutally beating then torturing any rival drugs thug who dared to challenge his authority. After their ordeal Len took great pleasure in slowly slicing their throats with an old-fashioned open razor. He was small, not more than 5 foot 2, very squat and looked as if he was fat. But Len was extremely powerfully built. He was like a tank due to his many years working offloading ships as a Liverpool docker. He had moved from the manual work into a very powerful position as a militant Trade Unionist.                                                                                                               
            Now the head of the most dominant drugs cartel in the North West of England, Len was a very wealthy man. He hugely enjoyed the trappings that came with his riches. His executive mansion tucked away behind security walls in the poshest district of Southport.
The gleaming Mercedes which his chauffeur and bodyguard would have waiting for him and his glamorous, jewel be-decked, beautiful, young wife.
            Now he sat in his expensive leather chair behind his mahogany desk in the office above his casino in Toxteth. In front of him a row of flat screen TVs looked down onto the gaming floor. With a click of the mouse on his desk he could zoom in on any table, gambler, dealer or pit boss. Many was the time he had spotted someone cheating at cards or roulette or one of his employees trying to skim of some of the takings. They never tried that or anything else again.
            Len was waiting for a phone call from one of his fellow drug dealers in Newcastle. All of them had heard of the mystery surrounding the murder of Ted Dixon. The local CID had begun describing the murderer as ‘The Shakespeare Killer,’ a title which of course was just what the tabloids yearned for.
            The Intercom buzzed.
‘Hi Boss. The guy from the fire Inspectors is here for his meeting with you.’
‘What’s His name?’
‘Mr Henry Falstaff.’
‘Send him up Jimmy.’
            The pathologist stared at the e-mail from the laboratory.
‘Bloody hell,l hemlock, that’s a first for me.’  
          Abraham Baker, known to all the gangs and police, as Big Abe, was taking the most extensive precautions ever in his life. Three heavily armed bodyguards were with him all the time. He had had a second set of security alarms fitted around his mansion in Chelsea. Armed guards secured the driveway and patrolled the grounds day and night. He was not the only one terrified of The Shakespeare Killer but he was determined not to be the next victim. His armoured and bomb proofed Jaguar pulled up at the kerb in front of his night club in Peckham. Two body guards leapt out, carefully scanned the area and all the adjacent roof tops. Then, taking an arm each, they hustled their master out of the back of the car towards the entrance. None of them took any notice of an ambulance parked further down the street.
            Abraham seemed to stumble then collapsed. The powerful tranquiliser dart from the sniper rifle had taken immediate effect. One of the bodyguards threw himself across the body of his charge while the other dialled 999 on his mobile phone. Then he gasped in relief as the ambulance steered away from the kerb and towards them. He ran out into the road waving furiously waving the driver to stop. A middle-aged man in paramedic’s uniform dashed over to the body, carried out a quick check then said,

‘It’s his heart, he needs to get into hospital immediately for treatment.’
‘We’ll come with you in the ambulance. No you can’t that’s not allowed but look, follow in your car, I will make sure you can be as close to your Boss as possible.’
            The Jaguar followed the ambulance, which now had flashing lights and a wailing siren, towards central London. Suddenly the ambulance slowed, the rear door flew open and a big tub of slippery engine oil spilt out onto the road together with a pile of carpet tacks. There was a loud band as the front tires punctured then the car skidded across the road and crashed into a garden wall. The ambulance sped off into the distance.
            That night at the Metropolitan Police HQ in the centre of London received a call from a man who claimed to be the Shakespeare Killer.
‘Parked opposite your entrance you will find an ambulance with my latest victim.’
            The Detectives gasped in horror. Tightly strapped to a patient’s bed in the ambulance lay the naked corpse of a black man. His face was very well known to the Senior Detective who muttered ‘Jesus, it’s big Abe.’ His female colleague retched and turned away from the tableau prepared for them. There was a gaping wound in the stomach of the corpse. Lying beside it a set of imperial kitchen scales contained a lump of bloody flesh. The needle pointed exactly to 1 pound.
                                                      South Korea   
                        Malcolm was now on what he hoped was the last stage in his campaign of vengeance. His latest victim had finally told him about the source of most of the drugs which entered the UK concealed in shipping containers. This was an island called Jeju to the South East of Southern Korea. The gangs had been very clever in finding this location for a secret drugs factory. The raw products were shipped in from all across the Orient, treated as necessary, packaged then taken to Korea’s main global shipping port.
            Malcolm boarded the Sewel ferry in the port of Incheon for the overnight voyage to the island. It was 9 o’clock at night, the departure had been delayed due to fog.
In his shoulder bag he had packed a hunting bow, arrows and two catapults, all purchased from a bazaar in Seoul. He planned to assassinate the mastermind of the drugs operation. Then secure the body to a tree, fire three arrows into its chest and hang the corpse from a branch using the two slings. Hopefully this would reinforce his message to criminals across the world.
Malcolm stood on the deck watching with pleasure as coach after coach off-loaded very excited school children. There were hundreds of them. A crew member told him that many school parties visited Jeju Island. It was famous not just for its natural beauty but also for the rich variety of its wild life. The kids would stay in wooden guest bungalows then guides would lead them exploring and carrying out ecological surveys.
            Malcolm found a quiet spot on the second deck to read his novel. All around him was the buzz, chat and laughter of the young people. He could already feel his spirits rise at such exuberance and happiness. He eventually managed to doze off, but, just as he came to and made a move towards the café for breakfast, he felt a thud, the ship careened then began to tilt over.
            He asked the school children if anyone could speak English so that he might understand the garbled and quite panicky messages coming from the ship’s tannoy.
‘Yes Sir. We are told not to be frightened, to put life jackets on and wait here until further instructed.’
            They waited and waited for what seemed like ages. The ferry seemed to be listing more and more. After about an hour, it suddenly heaved right over and sea water came rushing in, down the stairs and alleyways. The children started screaming in panic. Some tried to swim up the stair ways but the onrushing currents were too strong. Soon Malcolm was submerged. Only his head was above the water, pressed close to the ceiling with just a narrow gap of life saving air. His heart sank as he looked to his right. A young lad in a wheel chair was grasping onto a light fitting, fighting against the oncoming water. Malcolm took a deep breath then swam over to him. He pulled the young man free from his chair, left him hanging onto the light, then with all his strength started clattering the wheel chair’s legs against the glass of a porthole. Just before he finally weakened the pane cracked, split, then shattered.  Heedless of the pain and blood streaming down his arms, he cleared away the jagged fragments. Then he grabbed the young boy, who looked about the age Alec would have been, and using the very last ounce of his strength stuffed him through the narrow opening, out and upwards.
            Now the sea engulfed Malcolm and his corpse drifted away. 
                                                                     Ian MacMillan    2641 words

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Comments by other Members

Becca at 11:09 on 30 May 2014  Report this post
Hi Ian,
I see that no members have responded to your posting, so perhaps if you were to put it up without the bold and the italics, it'd get a better reception? It's really awfully difficult to read as it is now. 

BILLINGTON at 23:58 on 02 September 2014  Report this post
Good basic idea, but a little like well flavoured but lumpy gravy. It tastes good but is difficult to swallow and digest. Simplicity has its limitations, and the narrative moves so quickly , jumping in fits and starts around the UK and then the world, that the story could do with more length and detail to , well, lubricate the hard bits.

Italics generally don't do anything on a computer screen, as any web designer will say if asked.

I don't get the significance of the 'King's Costume, nor the hemlock and  pathologist who appear from nowhere.

Like I said, good basic idea of revenge and it's consequences, but needs alot more lubricating oil to work.

Kind regards,

Khyang at 18:55 on 06 September 2014  Report this post
I like it. Though perhaps you try to cover too much in a short story and, as a result, the Shakesperan references are difficult to understand (hemlock, pound of flesh, etc.). It may be worth expanding it, so that each part is a separate story.  Then you could include more depth on the victims (& the Korean boy) and make them more real.
(& the others are correct about the font.)

Fredja at 22:24 on 07 August 2015  Report this post
A nice idea but, as others have said, hammered out fairly abruptly.  Maybe it would be a slower reveal if you started with police trying to solve the murders and realising (or not) the Shakespeare connection. Then the tension is in the search for Malcolm.  You kill him off in the end almost as if you think you can't let a brutal sadistic murderer survive (which he is even if his victims are drug dealers) - is there a better way of dealing with this dilemma? 

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