Before Ben knew it he was sixty.
He wasn’t sure if that bothered him but it was now forty one years.
He stayed in what he called his ‘But and Ben’. He loved the old bed that pulled down from the wall. Ben reckoned that there was a cure for cancer within it’s mattress but he didn’t care that there might have also been a hundred different types of lurgey living within the confines of decades of dead skin and bodily fluids. It was quite comfortable.
Ben got up at around three each morning and sat at his window. He watched for foxes or deer but only ever saw the odd Rabbit and a Thrush with an attitude. Ben wanted to kill the Thrush but there was no-way that he could kill a wee bird.
A human, well he’d done that and still felt a bit shit about it. He could still feel the punch he threw. It was a peach.
Ben had retired after his wife had left him. She actually paid a few quid to get rid of him with no fuss. Linda wanted another guy and that was that.
He still loved her.
She wasn’t there anymore but he had the cottage.
He’d rather have had company or preferably both but the house became the second prize that he didn’t resent.
He wished that it was that Alan prick that he’d punched all those years back as he would then have never came into their lives.
But no. It was a wee insignificant fuckwit called James Smith that he killed.
‘James fucking Smith’, now there was a name. He knew it not because the Police asked him about it, but because he read it in the paper.
‘Man Found At The Bottom Of Steps To The Station Underpass’
That was the headline. There were no cameras in those days. Well there were but not there.
He poured himself a vodka and looked out for foxes. There were none. He settled down in his chair, put on some ‘Yes’ and watched the sky lighten.
Why did that guy stop him? Why did he ask for the time when Ben knew what was about to happen? Why did Ben swing first and hit him with the best punch he’d ever thrown?
…Why did James Smith have to die?
Ben took a swallow of his vodka. He shut his eyes and could see the twisted body at the bottom of those concrete stairs.
He had never told Linda.
The best way to keep a secret was to tell no-one.
He saw James Smith’s parents faces. They had appealed in the local news for information on their son’s killer. They had done this every year. But not this year. They had both passed away. The mother first, then the father four months later.
Only Ben could give that information but he never did.
He poured out another drink and saw that there was a rabbit running about on his lawn. He smiled.
He toasted himself as he did after his first drink every morning.
He toasted to ‘Silence’.
He toasted to ‘James Smith’s parents’.
He toasted to ‘Any foxes that were hiding’.
…And he toasted ‘Linda’.