Short Fiction

Rear Window by Michael Hutchinson

He’s back.

Who’s back, I say.

Him from Nandos. He’s back again.

Our blinds are almost closed – Dave likes to keep them closed even in the day – but now he’s pulled one strip down so he can see through.

He’s handed something over.

Can we get something from Nandos?

No.

Dave’s convinced that we’re being watched by people across the street. And that they – whoever they are – are passing messages through Nandos delivery people. I don’t know. I said to Dave that they could just be ordering stuff. Perhaps they just really like Nandos. I like Nandos. One of the reasons he doesn’t like the blinds opening, and then closing later, is that someone may read it as a sign. They don’t actually read the blinds ‘cos they don’t have words on. Dave talks like that as he’s quite clever. Read, in this sense, means to understand, he says.

He goes on to tell me that the blinds in the room across the road were closed. Then someone opened them and, what do you know, within five minutes a Nandos bloke on a moped turns up. Bit of a coincidence, Dave says.

They are ordering stuff, he tells me, that’s their cover. That’s what they do to look normal. Dave’s got a friend, Long Kevin, who told him all that the delivery riders come from a building in the industrial estate off Carter Road, behind Matalan. And it doesn’t have any windows. What are they hiding then, Kevin had said. If you’re making food you’d need windows, wouldn’t you? So they must be up to something else.

I don’t like Long Kevin, even though he’s Dave’s oldest friend. He may be Dave’s only friend, come to think of it. He’s tall and thin; I suppose that’s why everyone calls him Long Kevin. I don’t like the way he looks at me. It makes me feel uncomfortable. And he’s got bad teeth, all browny-grey and crooked, sort of.

Dave’s walked away from the window now. It’s like in that old film, he tells me – he’s grinning as he says it – the one with Rod Stewart in. He stops himself. No, not Rod Stewart, Stewart …?

Lee?

No, not him. This is an old film, it’s too old. Stewart Lee’s old but nowhere near old enough. Anyway, this bloke, he’s in a wheelchair and he can’t go out so all he does is look out the window at people who live opposite him.

Why is he in a wheelchair?

I dunno. He might have been a spass …

You can’t say that, Dave. You can’t use that word any more.

What do you mean. I can say what I like, I can say whatever I want. It’s my fuckin’ house.

Okay, but you can’t say it outside.

All right, he’s a cripple then. Is that better?

I suppose so.

Dave spends a lot of time looking out of the window because he’s not working at the moment. He got fired from his job out at Amazon. First he said it was because his face didn’t fit. Then later he said he was on a blacklist and that was why he lost his job. It’s the way the system works, he told me.

He’s very good with words, Dave. He’s really clever. He said he could have gone to any university he wanted – Oxford, Yale – but they’d have controlled his mind, made him into one of them, so he didn’t go. He can get mixed up sometimes though, his words I mean. Like the other day. We were talking about George Clooney. Well I started it because I’d been reading about his house in a magazine. He’s so Gorgeous, even if he is quite old. Anyway, Dave said George Clooney attracts really beautiful women, he can have his pick, like his wife who must be a supermodel or something. They all have supermodels. So I ask Dave if he was rich would he change me for a supermodel. No, Dave says, ‘cos they’re just out for what they can get. Then he says  he, George Clooney, that is, wouldn’t climb over him, meaning Dave, to get to me. What he meant to say was that George Clooney wouldn’t climb over me to get to Dave. I think that’s what he meant to say. It was his way of giving me a compliment. Trouble is, my mind runs on and I started to imagine George Clooney climbing onto Dave and him, George Clooney, putting his tongue into Dave’s mouth. When I get these sort of thoughts I have to do something to  distract myself like listen to music, or go on my phone and buy something. That tends to take my mind off it.

Dave says, where was I ? Oh yeah, this bloke, this cripple – he drags the word out to emphasise that he’s listened to me, that he’s taken what I said on-board – he sees all sorts of stuff going on, then he sees a murder but no one believes him.

I’m nodding, but not sure where’s he’s going with this.

So it’s just like the film. No one would believe me …

I believe you.

You do, babe. But no one else would. But, like in the film, it turns out that I’m right and everybody else is wrong. Know what I mean?

He gets a lot of these ideas from Long Kevin. They look at stuff on the internet together, where there’s all this information that the government doesn’t want you to know, like that dentists hide tiny transponders inside your teeth when you have a filling. Kevin said you wouldn’t catch him visiting a dentist. I asked what a transponder was and they both looked at me as though I were stupid, which perhaps I am. Well compared to Dave, I am, as he’s so intelligent. I don’t think Kevin’s as clever, though, even though he pretends to knows lots. It’s a small computer chip, Dave replies. What does it do? It transponds. Transponds? Yeah, it’s like what they put into cat’s necks, so if your cat goes missing you can find it. I nod. This has made me sad because it’s reminded me of my cat, Missy Bubbles, who disappeared and I never got her back. If only I’d had a transponder fitted into her she might be still here today. Missy Bubbles was actually a boy cat but I didn’t know and thought he was a girl. Later on, when I found out, he was already answering to her name, so I just left it as it was.

Why is the government interested in watching us, I asked Dave. He gave me that look that told me I was stupid. He doesn’t always do that, just sometimes when he’s tired or stressed. He’s often stressed at the moment but you would be if the government has people spying on you. He used to smoke a lot. Dope. But since I moved in he’s cut it down ‘cos I said it made all my clothes stink. He says they find who you are because of what information you’ve read, apparently. Like if you discover the truth about 9/11, or  that the Queen went to Scotland just to die there. Or Liz Truss had her killed. Stuff like that. Then they know who you are and you become kind of dangerous to them, ‘cos you might spread the truth and they don’t want that. So they send agents into buildings near where you live and watch you. Watch what you’re doing. Who you’re meeting. Once, before I knew better, I asked Dave that if this was the case then why did he want to do it, knowing that he’d be under observation and that these government agents, Special Branch, or whoever they were, could do anything they liked to him. Some people, he said, just have to know the truth. They can’t live in ignorance like what everyone else does. We’re the one per cent, Long Kevin had said. We’re the only ones who know what’s going on and they don’t like it. They hate us. Then he added that, of course, the government and all their agents, MI5, GCHQ, all of them, they know as well. Obviously. So it’s more than one per cent really, if you look at it like that. You know all those BT vans putting in cables? Kevin had said. They aren’t supposed to be putting fibre cables in but they’re watching us. Okay, they’re putting in cables as well, but their real purpose is to keep us under observation. To listen in to our conversations; I remember how he looked around the room as he said this, as though someone might be listening in. Has your internet got any faster? No – Kevin often answers his own questions – so what are they doing? Eh? Eh? You can’t argue with that kind of logic. I suppose.

I asked Dave what happened in the film. What happened to the crippled bloke. He said the murderer saw him watching him through some binoculars and came over and tried to kill him but he was saved by his girlfriend who was Ingmar Bergman. It might not have been her but it was somebody like that. I’ve heard of her, she was very beautiful a long time ago. She was pale and a bit cold, being Scandinavian, but really, really beautiful.

I’ll save you, Dave, I said. If those agents come over here and try to kill you I’ll fuckin’ kill them. I’ll stab them. I’ll be your Ingmar Bergman and you can be my George Clooney. Dave likes it when I say he’s like somebody handsome. Somebody famous. He goes all funny and can be very romantic. D’you fancy a shag? he asks. I nod but then say I’d like to eat first ‘cos we haven’t had any tea yet. Okay, he says, and picks up his Iphone. Nandos?

Michael Hutchinson

Image by Markéta (Machová) Klimešová from Pixabay 

7 thoughts on “Rear Window by Michael Hutchinson”

  1. Hi Michael

    Despite a technical issue (soon to be resolved)–this story is a brilliant slice of paranoia. Utterly brilliant and edgy.
    (If all goes well, you will not understand what I mean by “technical Issue”)
    Leila

    Like

  2. Good morning Leila. I thought this was an accurate portrayal of a huge number of American twitter users until I saw Liz Truss and MI5. It is unfortunate this could pass for non-fiction. What I’m poorly attempting to convey is good as a picture of flat earthers and the ilk.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Michael,
    As OTT as the Conspiracy Theorists can get.
    …However, I kinda like Conspiracy Theorists as you just know that one of them might just have something!
    Cutting, perceptive and clever!
    Hugh

    Like

    1. Thanks for your comments. I have met people who believe conspiracy theories – and can point to evidence online in support of their views. Perhaps we’re all on the search for explanations these days.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. That was very entertaining, and well constructed. Can’t give up Nando’s! Even though it’s full of government agents! I worked with a man who punched out his dentist because he thought he was being implanted with transponders. That’s one step beyond Dave…. who seems to like imagining, as opposed to being immersed in his fantasy world for real. However, his thoughts are rather ominous, esp. around his firing. And there’s Long Kevin to spice up his paranoia. The narrator’s voice brings out her character, connection is what matters to her and she’ll be Ingmar Bergman for Dave, who is becoming crippled by his thinking.

    Liked by 1 person

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