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HE KNEW HE WAS RIGHT; three-What SHORT STORY Tales from the Midlands.

Byline: JOHN BURTON

ISUPPOSE it all started with the dish washer. The tyranny of emptying and re-filling that cursed machine every morning became the burden of my day.

Always the same bowls and cutlery. The porridge that had to be cleaned from the bowls. It became a nightmare that I would delay further into each day until eventually I was rushing to get it done minutes before my wife came home from work.

So one day I decided to vary things. I put the washing in the dish washer and the dishes in the washing machine. This brought some spectacular results - particularly with the washing machine. Watching the cups and plates roll around, smashing to smithereens was just a riot.

Unfortunately both were ruined by my little escapade. My wife went wild and then didn't speak to me for days. But hey, I didn't have to fill the dish washer anymore!

This little incident therefore gave me more time. Time to raise my head out from my rut and see the real world.

I had taken voluntary redundancy and early pension from work. Enough for us to live on if we were careful. And I was so relieved at leaving work after thirty-five years of dull routine.

Now I was free! Free to do what though? Free to look out of the window at the distant Birmingham city scape. Free to watch relentless mind-numbing daytime TV. Or simply free to realise the truth - the world is dangerous and full of people that bear me grudges and wish to do me harm I began to notice people looking away quickly when I caught their gaze. People I spoke to when I popped out to the shops would cut short any conversation and hurry away.

One or two of them riled me so much that I followed them for a while along the street. Just trying to provoke a response and catch them out.

I knew they knew something about me. Something nasty. But they would never say.

One day two policemen came to my front door.

"We have had several complaints from local residents - particularly from ladies. They claim that you are harassing them. Being intimidating."

And all I could think was - they know where I live!

A few days later the front doorbell rang. I opened it and recognised a woman from over the road. Lynne, Linda, something like that, I was sure.

"Hello there. Sorry to bother you - Leanne from number 42. I was just wondering if the postman left a parcel here for me? There was a note saying it was left with a neighbour, but I have no idea which one" "No, sorry. We've had no post at all today."

She nodded, smiled, bade me goodbye and left. But here's the thing: she didn't try any of the other neighbours. She just walked directly back to her house and went in.

I tracked her from our bedroom window, having taken the stairs three-at-a-time. Parcel my foot! What did she want?!

So I started to watch Leanne. I turfed-out my old bird-watching binoculars and tabled her every move. 7.15am - bedroom light comes on; 7.45 kitchen light then lounge curtains opened. Then at 8.25 (occasionally as late as 8.27) she would leave and drive off in her Ford Ka. She lived alone. No pets. What could she want from me? One day as she was leaving she glanced up and saw me at the window. She looked around then back at me. I hastily drew behind the curtain. The next day I was more careful - but she caught me anyway.

She didn't even glance over at me until she had opened the car. Then she pretended to remember something in the house and feinted to go back. But suddenly she span round and caught me. She slammed her car door and marched over. My wife was downstairs and she answered the door. There was a brief conversation and Leanne stormed back and drove off.

I went down and all my wife said was: "I don't know what you think you are up to, but you had better stop it. She threatened the police."

The police! So that was it. She was in it with them!

So, you see, I had to kill her. I had to break in to her house and wait for her to get back from work. I had to strangle her. Or she would have got me I had been so lucky to spot her.

Ah, but I am safe now. Safe in this cave. It is noisy yes, I grant you. I don't mind a little noise as long as they can't find me. I don't mind being on my own at all. It was only a matter of time before my wife went over to them anyway.

I could see her gradually drifting to their side. Now I am safe. I can start living my own life. I will just kneel down to rest my legs. Then I will work out what to do.

* At the inquest the driver of the train, Andrew Medley, made a brief statement. He related that as his train, the 10.30 Birmingham New Street to London Euston express, entered the tunnel he caught a glimpse of the man on the track ahead.

He had his back to the train and appeared to be kneeling. Possibly praying. The impact would have killed him instantly.

STEP ONE: Write a short story of around 1,000 words or less.

STEP TWO: Send it to Short Stories, Sunday Mercury, Fort Dunlop, Fort Parkway, Birmingham B24 9FF. You can also send it as an e-mail attachment (Word preferred, please) to sundaymercury@sundaymercury.net, marking 'Short Story' in the subject field.

Please remember that your story should be suitable for a family audience, although murder most foul is certainly not ruled out.

Copyright of the story will remain with the writer, but we reserve the right to publish it in print and online. We regret that we cannot return manuscripts.
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Title Annotation:Letters
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Mar 3, 2013
Words:1011
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