Ducks

Punctually, at one o’clock, he comes to feed the ducks; tearing his sandwich apart and shying the fragments in a wide arc so that the birds break ranks and scurry around, cannoning into each other like dodgem cars. He always comes on Thursday, and from the start, I wanted to ask him why he demolished his packed lunch in that way. And why does he always have to fucking do it just as I am settling down to read my fucking book?

Now, I anticipate him; the book abandoned. Instead, I sit, turning pages, only pretending to read. I can’t even remember what the book is about. Oh yes: some bored, randy housewife. Fuck that!

I joke to myself that I am stalking him. I know many play that game, but few carry it to fruition. I fancy that his wife packs him sterile lunches — plain cheese on white bread. Of course, he is too kind hearted to tell her he’s grown tired of mumsy fare. I wonder why he only feeds the ducks one day a week? What happens Thursday? That leads me down back alleys of suspicion I’d rather skirt. Jealousy surfaces. If he’s always going for a three course meal, he isn’t going on his own. I can fantasise a defenestrated wife, no problem. But an affair is stickier — harder than a marriage to destroy.

He is fit — but not unwinnably so. His hands, staunch walls of fingers; but tender when nourishing the ducks — sweet! Usually, his eyes avoid mine. But one day I caught them and saw that they were blue, like mine. Fuck him! He could at least have smiled or said hello. That would have made what I have in mind believable — and stirred the glands and oiled my passage.

But now, as he walks from the water’s edge, I stand up feigning nonchalance; take a few spazzy steps, hands clasped à son derrière, (that French cliché is symptomatic!) pretend to approach the pond — watching him, eye-cornered. And when I think he is distant enough for it to seem I am not following, I saunter up the path after him. My heartbeat is fast; my breathing too. I’ve not felt like this for — too long! I don’t care if anyone guesses what I’m doing, and I rather hope he  does, in a way. I’ve never quite done this before — not in broad daylight. I don’t know the rules — if there are any. No, of course not — there is only hunger. I hope he’s not on his way to meet her. People do this all the time, don’t they? And anyway, what exactly am I doing? Very little, objectively — just going for a stroll in my lunch hour. There isn’t much of it left. Shit-for-brains to not come out later and spend a full hour pursuing my new ‘interest’.

Then again, what I have in mind need only take a few minutes.

But I have not counted on the liveliness of the streets at this hour. Being a night person, I rarely stroll through the shopping centre at a time when the shops are open; especially now that I do most of my shopping online. Ah well — it may come to nothing, after all. Strange to think about it, but almost any thoroughfare in the world today looks no different from any other. They all have their Marks and Spencer, Top Shop, Primark, (going ‘downmarket’ I see!). Ah, he has turned off the road near Tesco, at last. Surely he must be going to meet someone? How long have I got before I have to turn around — or pounce?

We are in one of those side-streets heavy goods vehicles unload in. Not long now, before it is decided. He’s disappeared beside that parked van. The driver is not around. So, here we go. Together at last!

I don’t believe it. He has a knife. I never expected that. How extraordinary! How very very extraordinary!

All the time I was stalking him, he was luring me into his trap.

Of course, now I remember. Why did I not see it before; that headline — ‘The Thursday Killer’?

If I act scared, can I distract him? It’s surely too much to hope that he will drop his guard. No. I recognise that look: focused, emotionless, devoid of empathy.

“You might as well relax, Ducks,” he says. “It will soon be over. Soon be over.”

Yes it will, ‘Ducks’.

I bring my own knife up under his jaw. His eyes open wide in astonishment.

He slumps, heavily. What a shame to kill this beautiful stranger; yummy monster. But when the lust comes, it is too late to think of what might be. One has to act on instinct. Knife in, knife out.

Then I feed.

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About Zoe Nightingale

I am a writer of short stories, novels, poetry and non fiction.
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