pony street murder club
The Angel of the Lord sits by my side in our stolen car and tells me to watch. He tells me not to look away, not to miss a thing.
“Don’t miss that old woman getting mugged and beaten across the street,” he says, whilst he tries to retune the radio. “See how they're kicking her fragile, old skull in? I can guarantee you those men are going to spend all their ill-gotten gains on drugs and end up giving their cheap, whore girlfriends some terrible disease one day in the not too distant future.”
I tell him I can see fine for myself from here. There's no missing the three men who jumped the old dear and pushed her to the ground only moments ago. In the same way, there's no missing all the people walking past and doing their best not to notice what's happening. Even in the half light of early nightfall there's no missing every punch and kick being delivered to that poor, old woman.
“How can you be sure they're going to do all that?” I ask and the Angel of the Lord, his completely white eyes taking in the brutality over the road, says he can’t lie to me because he’s an angel.
I feel half tempted to try and tell him that some truths are more dangerous than lies. The half life of some truths will out live us all. Only I keep my mouth shut. Right up until the moment a deep swing of a kick snaps the pensioner's head back.
“If you’re an angel,” I point out. “Shouldn’t you be over there, helping her?”
“We've been over this before,” the Angel of the Lord tells me, still fiddling with the radio. “She’s not our concern. No one person is. This is about more than that. This is to do with the entire world.”
“But surely that over there is sin, right? Aren't angels meant to be against sin?”
“Define sin.” He says and leans back, seemingly satisfied with some Miles Davis for now. It won't last. “It’s all in the eye of the beholder really. Right now that over there is a necessary evil.”
Over the road, the three skinheads have given in kicking their victim to a pulp and have now turned to trying to pull the handbag out of her unconscious hand. Even out cold, and possibly dead, the old woman has got one hell of a grip. One of them gives her body, or possibly corpse by now, another strong kick in the gut. It bends to the force of his foot. Another grins and grabs at the bag again. It’s still caught tight.
All I’ve seen for weeks now is violent crimes just like this. It’s all the Angel of the Lord will show me. We never intervene or stop it. We just sit and watch, with the angel pointing out the good parts in case I miss them. I keep feeling like we should do something but, realistically, I suppose me and an angel trying to save people and solve crimes does sound a little bit like some tacky TV show I would've watched as a kid.
“How long do we have to watch this?” I ask, but there’s no answer. The Angel of the Lord is too busy with the radio again.
One thing I've learnt about angels recently is that they're more obsessed with music than you'd expect. Especially this one. He is always looking for something to suit his mood. Or her mood. Or its mood. Angels and gender specific pronouns can get a little tricky at times.
For over a month now we’ve seen muggings, murders, rapes and beatings. We’ve seen police coercing prostitutes and old men poisoning their wives. We’ve seen it all. And I know, deep down, there’s still more to come. The Angel of the Lord here is on a mission of tough mercy, or so he/she/it put it when we first met. He/she/it told me I had to learn that tough love is not always a bad thing. They came here to show me that hate is sometimes the best reason there is to change the world. Think of what you have to do as correctional therapy, the Angel had told me as we watched a child push their younger sibling down a flight of stairs. Think of it as wiping the slate clean. He told me that sometimes you have to kill the plants to get rid of the weeds. Sometimes you have to poison the cat to get rid of the rats. Sometimes the world is supposed to get hit by the meteor.
“I said can we go yet?” I ask, thinking about trying to find a phone box. She might still be up. Not that she ever wants to speak to me again. Not after what I did to her.
“They haven’t technically mugged her yet,” He says, switching back to the station we started on and turning up a classic Frank Sinatra song. “The point was to watch the mugging of a poor, defenceless old lady.”
“But I saw a mugging yesterday.”
“That was the mugging a poor, defenceless old man. This is completely different.”
“Really?” I lean on the window and sigh, my breath fogs up my view of the street. “Completely different?”
Across the road, they’ve given in with the bravado and any sort of speed. Now all three of them are kneeling around her, trying to pry at her rigid fingers off the handbag. One of them grins at the others and pulls out a knife, the others cheer and high five. I can’t help but think of the apes from the beginning of 2001.
“The old man gave them his money before they kicked him to death, remember?” the Angel of the Lord tells me. “Whereas the old woman here is going to keep hold of her purse until the bitter end.”
“So, you know how this is going to end?”
“It’s almost done now.”
“She’s dead then?”
“Shouldn’t you already know that?” He asks, watching me with his bright white eyes.
I’ve got so many crime scenes charging around in my head now that I could write a book. I could write the kind of film that gets banned within a week of its première and lives on in the mind of impressionable teens as some sort of controversial masterpiece of blood and terror. I’ve become desensitised to the whole thing. All it took was time and the lack of the ability to leave. Sure, the first few deaths threw me a bit, one of them in particular made me vomit all over the stolen car we were in at the time. But now, as soon as we pull into a town, I’m ready. I feel my gut clench and my morals sneak out the back door for a cigarette. I look for the obvious criminals, but I always find the victims easier to spot for some reason.
There’s a phone over by the old woman’s corpse. I hadn't noticed that. I’m so used to focusing on the crime that I didn’t see the damn thing. Now if these kids will just hurry up and get the purse I can make that call. Finally. Although, knowing my luck, she’ll be going to bed by the time I get hold of her. Either that or she’ll just slam the phone down on me again.
Typical. They’re taking forever with this mugging, I wonder if they need a hand.
Watching all this crime has really thrown my body clock right off. I sleep most of the time in the car so my back is always killing me when I get out. I look like a pale hunchback. When I am awake, the time passes just as about as quick as it takes glaciers to move over large continents. The Angel of the Lord isn’t much of a talker either and after what they did…well, I don’t feel too much like talking to them either.
Most of the crimes we see are at night anyway, so I end up sleeping all day long ready for the next brutality. Can’t more people get victimised during the day? It would really make my life easier. It was also make my life easier if I could show my face without people trying to lynch me. Sitting here with these bandages all over my face, I look like something out of a horror film.
I need to find a way out of this, but what can you do against an angel of the lord? Maybe I could blaspheme him to death or give him a radio that won't quite tune properly? That might distract him.
Across the road they tug at the fingers and the one with the knife goes to work. When it's done, he falls back and old, knotted fingers fall to the floor. The purse rolls out into the road. They all look up and laugh their asses off.
“Finally.” I sigh.
Then a truck comes crashing in and drives right over the purse. After the truck’s barged down the road all I can see is three dumbstruck guys and a dead body. No purse. They look around the road, get up and look after the truck. It’s about then they start to argue between themselves, right in front of the phone box. Great.
The problem with mobiles is they don't want work once you hold them near anything angelic. Or demonic for that matter. Those weird crackle pops of static you get on your phone, walking down the street sometimes, the odds are on that you just walked by something that doesn't really belong in this world.
“I thought you said they were going to go buy drugs and spread diseases?” I say, gesturing across the street.
“I may have misjudged the situation.”
“That’s one way of saying it.”
“I thought you knew everything that was going to happen. I thought that was the whole point.”
“Are you accusing me of lying?” asks the Angel of the Lord as the radio starts playing an old Louis Armstrong tune. He immediately goes back to work with the dial.
Across the road, the argument heats up as one of them pushes another over the corpse. He yelps as he sprawls across the pavement and then leaps back at his partner in crime.
“Well, you have to admit, this does put a new light on things.” I’m stalling for time more than anything. I need to make that call, maybe she can get me out of this. I need to speak to her. I need to warn her about what's coming.
Although some of this has to do with my nerves. My frayed and battered nerves. Every time I start to feel like this I panic. I remember being outside that hospital. I remember all those people, looking up at me. I remember the moment when I killed them all without ever meaning to do it. It was as simple as breathing in and breathing out. Then there was only a sea of dead bodies in front of me.
“If the cloud and harp fits.”
“And what exactly do you mean by that?”
I’ve only ever seen the angel get angry once before. It wasn't pretty or heavenly in the slightest. It was disconnected. Like a child pulling legs off a spider or burning ants with a magnifying glass.
“I mean how do I know half the things you’ve shown me were actually meant to happen? How do I know you’re not just winging it?”
“Winging it?! I'm here for the sake of your world. I’m here to show you that you’re wasting your time. That these people don't need saving.”
“Right, says you.”
Over the road, the one with the knife is being overpowered by the others. They’re knocking him down right next to the old woman’s body.
“All I’ve done is shown you how bad things truly are.”
“But how do I know they’re real? I thought you had some authority in the manner but now I'm not so sure. For all I know I've making this up as you go along.”
“Making this up?! I’m not here to scam you! I’m here to open your eyes! These aren't rare occurrences. We could go anywhere in the world, right now, and see these crimes. That’s the whole point.”
I look over the road, the fight is still is getting worse. One of the older ones lurches at a younger one, but misses. His neck is grabbed and the knife driven into it, he collapses. Blood jets into the air and stains the paving slabs. His body twitches for a brief moment. One down. Two to go.
The knife skitters away as he falls and they chase after it. They never look back at the second body they've left on the ground in as many minutes.
“Then why do you always choose where we go? Hand the map over.”
“Because, if this happens everywhere, then we should be able to find it anywhere. Right?”
Now the two left are scrabbling for the knife. They tumble over the old woman and over the body of their newly dead friend. They scramble past the severed fingers and all the time I’m watching I think of my brother and me. Now there's a long story.
The knife is grabbed by one guy, but the other punches his back hard and it flies out onto the wet road. There’s a moment of silence, of hope, of fear and adrenaline that you can see racing through their minds. The world around them dissolves and becomes invisible, nothing but blurs and silence behind their heartbeats. Then, without even looking at each other, they both dive for the knife in one.
Cue the next truck.
Even in the car we hear the unmistakeable wet crunch and pop of their bodies under the heavy tires. The truck slams its brakes on and I see an arm raise up, caught in the treads. It hangs there, loosely saluting me. Me and the dead. Now there's an even longer story. Near the front of the truck, is what looks like a scalp caught on a mud flap, but I can’t bring myself to look at it for long.
“Time to move on.” The Angel of the Lord declares, its seatbelt.
“But…but I have to…”
The driver of the truck gets out and looks at the mess of splintered bones and tissue under his wheels, then he looks past them and sees the other two bodies on the pavement. By the time he looks at where we were parked we’re long gone.
“Where are we going?” I ask.
“The coast,” says the Angel of the Lord. “You’ve yet to see anyone jump off a cliff yet.”
“It's like I haven't lived.”
It's strange to think I have my dead sister to thank for all this.