The car pulled off the road onto a lane that led to a picnic area in the forest. The driver cut the engine and relied on the lane’s slight gradient to take him and his cargo another few hundred yards towards his destination. Momentum exhausted, handbrake applied, the driver sighed with irritation; this was not how he had planned to spend his Friday night. Still, in his line of work one had to be prepared for the unforeseeable: there was always something that had to be cleaned up.
He’d had to cancel auditions; the agent wasn’t happy, but he’d get over it. The flesh monger would have to wait till later: first he had a body to get rid of. The flesh monger would give a good price for girls keen to get off the streets and dance naked instead. And Barry had the girls; they both knew that.
Barry opened the boot of his Mercedes, grabbed the naked corpse by the feet and manhandled her out onto the forest floor. It was dark beyond the dull glow of the trunk light but a torch would be foolhardy. Barry had no intention of burying the body – she was naked, had no name and no identity, no one would ever trace the body back to him. No, he’d just drag it into the forest and leave it there. It would be days before the obligatory dog walker stumbled upon the remains by which time the local wildlife would have already set to work on the body.
Earlier, as he was getting ready for the auditions, he’d received a panicked ‘phone call from one of his managers – an Armenian kid with broken English and a stammer. Barry couldn’t remember his name: it didn’t matter anyhow. Barry just called everyone ‘fella’ or ‘mate’. The kid was the younger brother of a business associate, whose name he did know: Erik. Erik was hard, really hard, and his stuttering brother was soft. ‘Stammer’ had panicked when he’d found the girl dead on the bed, but had enough sense to phone Barry immediately and to make sure that the client responsible for the death didn’t leave the room.
Barry resolved to make a bit of a fuss over Stammer next time he saw him: praise him, tease him a little, make him feel like he’s part of the family – soft kids like that sort of thing. Charisma wasn’t something Barry had in abundance, but the little he did posses he used intelligently. Sometimes being a little charismatic, a little playful, helped get him what he wanted. Other times, most times, threats and violence worked just as well. Being liked was not important to Barry. Great leaders, he thought, should be feared first, liked second. Besides it wasn’t in his nature to be likeable and he wasn’t fond of pretence. He was who he was and saw no need to pretend otherwise. It was also best, he believed, to be who you are unto others, lest they get the wrong impression. Yes, Barry was true to his nature, however loathsome that may be.
Stammer, despite his softness, or because of it, was who he was. Stammer wasn’t comfortable in his own skin, probably wished he were more like Erik: hard and unforgiving. As a result, Stammer wanted to prove himself: to show that he was up to the job. Stammer was scared, sometimes terrified, but he wasn’t a coward. He dealt with volatile situations, discomfort visible to all. He couldn’t hide it; wasn’t hard enough to mask the fear, not like Erik. Barry preferred to deal with the Stammers of this world because they were readable, ultimately pleasers, and pleasers would do anything to gain favour.
When Barry arrived at the massage parlour Stammer quickly led him to the room in question. On the bed, amongst the whore-red sheets, lay the dead girl. Barry didn’t know her name, didn’t want to know her name. Names gave identity. She hadn’t been a ‘some-one’: she had been a commodity.
A welt of bruised, broken skin formed, like a collar around her neck. Damaged goods.
In the next room, just beyond the thin partition wall, a father of three and church organist took some of life’s frustrations out on a nineteen year-old Romanian girl. The Romanian girl, Lavinia, thought of home and when that didn’t work she thought of revenge.
Standing by the window in the dead girl’s room was a young man smoking a cigarette. He looked like a weasel: lanky tall, greasy hair, shabby shirt. Weasel had a sly, furtive glint in his eye. But weasel was scared, backed into a corner scared, and all the sly in the world wouldn’t get him out of this situation.
‘What happened here?’ Barry asked still looking at the dead girl. He knew what had happened here, the evidence spoke for it self. Whore dead on the bed with strangulation marks could only mean that the punter, Weasel, had gone too far with his fantasy. Weasel watching porn, gets excited at the idea of strangulation, he tries it on his girlfriend, girlfriend thinks he’s weird. Weasel can’t stop thinking about it and so reasons that if he can’t get it for free he’ll pay for it.
‘It was an accident mate,’ said Weasel.
Barry didn’t like being called mate, not by Weasel. Not by a sneaky, wily prick who cost him money and time, not to mention the grief.
‘Barry turned to Stammer, ‘You got this on a recording?’
‘’Yes, w…w…we have it all,’ and with that Stammer produced a USB stick.
Barry took two steps towards Weasel and punched him hard in the face. The organist in the next room reached a crescendo. Weasel’s head hit the wall behind him before collapsing in a heap. Lavinia thought that the best way to revenge her captives was to take her own life.
‘When he comes around tell him that he will be hearing from me.’
Back in the forest Barry calculated the cost of his loss as he dragged the body into the woods. The girl had cost him ten thousand pounds, all in. She had still been in the process of working off the debt. Potentially she could have made him a lot of money; the whores worked constantly with no time to protest, plot or scheme. Their spirit had to be completely broken: they had only to only wake up and go to work, so that nothing else mattered. Hopes, dreams, aspirations, desires, personal space, sense of self… all stripped away until they were completely de-humanised… cloned. After two years without a day off they looked tired, haggard and numb and as their sell-by dates arrived, the girls were quickly replaced. Some were sent to ‘factories’, others sold as cheap labour. Occasionally, a girl would be trained to be a ‘groomer’ enabling the traffickers to trap more young girls.
Within that two-year period the dead girl could have earned Barry two hundred thousand pounds. He could replace her soon enough, but he wouldn’t get his ten thousand pounds back and no-one was going to compensate him for the loss of her earnings during the interim.
Barry stopped. He’d dragged the body far enough. By the light of the full moon he saw that he was in a small clearing. He left the body just inside the periphery of a perfectly formed circle of trees and walked towards the centre. The circle was not big, maybe five strides wide. Underfoot the ground was soft and nothing but dead leaves covered it. A perfect circle in nature was, he believed, impossible and so therefore something to be wary of. Barry took another stride towards the very centre. The ground gave way.
Barry began to sink very rapidly into what felt like sand. With nothing to grab hold of but handfuls of dead leaves Barry, now at chest height, tried digging his nails into the ground, but the ground was made of sand and as Barry sunk deeper into his hole, the sand around him fell in as well. Within seconds all that remained above the surface was Barry’s head and hands pointing up at the night sky.
Moon looked down but showed no sign of interest: best just observe and not get involved she thought.
What Barry thought in those desperate moments was a jumble of confusion – What was happening? Why was it happening? How could he stop it from happening? Expletives and snippets of a memory long suppressed returned…
What Barry felt was his usual numbness to the world except that… except … something to do with that snippet was causing him to feel uneasy, slightly panicked. He took his last breath, his last glance at the moon and went under. His sense of falling continued for a while longer, time to prepare for death, for oblivion.
The world was a cruel place; he knew that. He was a part of that cruelty; he knew that too. Others in his position would justify or even lie to themselves, blame circumstance, blame a lack of choice. Make out that they were fundamentally good, that they were loved, had created opportunities for others or some such rationale but Barry did none of that. He knew that he was part of something much bigger and now that something bigger had swallowed him whole. He continued to fall, struggling with the lack of oxygen in his lungs, with abstract visions, of childhood dreams. Then… nothing. Lots of nothing. Nothing at all. Nothing.
When Barry woke up it was pitch black, he was lying on a beach, he could hear the waves rushing ashore, feel the sand between his fingers, smell his father’s whisky-soured breath breathing down on him. His father’s hand on him, pushing him into the sand, his voice threatening, full of violence and shame.
When Barry woke up it was pitch black, he was lying in sand. He could hear only his own breathing, which he found reassuring. He tried to move; he felt heavy, cumbersome, but unhurt. He sat up and stretched out his hands, thin air and sand. He stood up clumsily and staggered, arms stretched out, reaching into the darkness. After a few steps he felt something solid, smooth – like glass. He slammed his hands against the surface, to no avail. Barry reached into his pocket and found his mobile phone; it had some charge left. The light it produced was enough for him to confirm that he stood in sand and that he was indeed surrounded by a glass wall. Barry decided to call Erik. No signal.
As a child Barry had, as part of a school trip, entered a maze with several other children. Barry didn’t take advice from others and was never part of a team. So, once in the maze, Barry chose a different path: he’d find his own way out. After several failed attempts Barry began to panic, just a little. The first wave of trepidation announced itself when he became aware of the quiet. The, until then, constant noise made by the other kids, laughing, running, shouting had stopped. It had actually faded away as the children gradually completed the maze and moved on but it was only now that Barry recognised the absence of something he hadn’t been aware of. As long as the other kids were around he hadn’t been truly alone and as much as he’d hate to admit it, Barry didn’t like being alone. Being alone always came just before something bad happened. He had been alone just before his mother killed herself. He was alone a lot after that; even when his father decided to stay at home he was alone. Now he was alone again.
Barry had begun to develop a ‘fuck it’ attitude to life. No one could ever hurt him more than his parents had already done. Nor would he allow anyone to get close to him or hurt him again. At the first sign of emotion, good or bad, entering his system he’d push it under a ton of hatred. Hatred was all he had. Hatred was heavy, hatred deadened, made everything numb.
Stuck in the maze, not being able to find his way out, he hated the stupid maze, he hated the trepidation, he hated the other children and he hated the rules of this game. Barry made his own rules. And so, with a muttered ‘fuck it’ and a ton of hate, Barry bulldozed his way through the hedges that made the maze walls. He went through them or over them if he had to. He just kept going until he reached the final hedge and popped out through the other side to find the others having a picnic on the lawn. Teachers and children alike looked on in bewilderment as ‘fuck it’ Barry barged his way back into existence, torn, scratched and bleeding.
Now that old sense of trepidation began to make a tactical bid for existence. Here, in this strange, seemingly isolated environment, a sense of trepidation could make something of himself, really flourish, and, eventually bloom into a much wilder, more aggressive form. Barry called on his life long companion hatred.
‘Fuck this,’ muttered Barry. He tried to take a run at the glass wall but the sand underfoot slowed him down. Undaunted, he continued launching himself in all directions and each time he met the wall, and each time he met the wall he gave it a hard shove, a kick, a punch until he was, for a while at least, defeated. Barry crumpled to his knees, exhausted; too tired to feel even his ubiquitous hatred.
One of the many things Barry had learnt about life was that, if you can’t beat it, literally, then calm the fuck down and use your head. Cunning had proven to be a vital ally in his life and had, he must admit, got him out of some very tricky scrapes. Logically, there must be a way out of… out of… a glass container with sand in it, buried underground, in a forest? Was it a trap? Of course it was. It was a trap placed there by forest wardens designed to catch a rare or dangerous animal. In the morning someone would come along and inspect the trap, find an irate Barry and probably die. Barry didn’t want to have to answer questions about why he was there and why there was a dead girl up on the surface.
Barry felt better: reason had prevailed. He propped himself up against the glass wall and closed his eyes…
He was lying face down on a beach, the sun caressing his young skin. The tide lapped against the shore, his cock was growing hard for no reason; erections were a pleasant and novel phenomenon for the young boy. This was the moment when everything had changed. The moment a vigilant, biographer could identify and say, with pinpoint accuracy,
“This is the moment ‘Fuck it Barry’ was born.” Barry’s father, drunk and full of shame, leaning over him, his breath putrid, his face wet with tears, his hands on Barry’s shoulders,
Outside of his dream Barry became aware of a rushing sound: it grew closer as his cock grew smaller. Just before he opened his eyes Barry saw his mother sitting on the shore line rocking back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. She was laughing, laughing at him, at the pain she’d caused, at the life she’d left for him.
‘BITCHHHH!’ he shouted.
And with that cry of distilled venom Barry opened his eyes and saw that there was light and then he saw the body of a naked girl fall from above and land in the sand in front of him.
‘Bitch,’ he said again, more as an incredulous remark this time.
How the hell did the body get here? Did someone throw it down? Had it been dragged by the aforementioned dangerous/rare animal? If someone had thrown the body down here, then who? The Forest Warden? Erik maybe? Well if he wasn’t going to be rescued by Erik or the warden then he’d have to rely on the obligatory dog walker.
Stuck underground with a corpse for company. Well at least he wasn’t alone any more.
The corpse coughed and spluttered. She opened her eyes, fixed Barry with a baleful stare and smiled.
‘What the fuck?’ exclaimed Barry trying to back further into the glass wall.
The corpse sat up and rubbed her neck where Weasel had throttled her.
‘Jesus, I thought you were dead! You WERE dead, definitely dead.’
‘I am dead,’ said the girl still smiling.
‘The passing away part was special, it was like nothing else.’ She continued, as Barry tried desperately to employ some cunning.
‘Up to the point where I knew I was going to die it wasn’t so good. This guys hands around my neck, squeezing harder as his cock got harder inside me, that bit was terrifying, as I’m sure you can imagine? But once I knew it was over, that moment, standing on the bridge between life, for what it was worth, and death with all its promise, that moment was pure bliss. I felt nothing but joy. If you had asked me what joy felt like before that moment, I would have only been able to offer an approximation of an elucidation. All the pain and the fear and the uncertainty disappeared. Hard to imagine isn’t it? When you think that I’d lived with those negative feelings every day since I was abducted. Poof! Gone! Like blowing on a dandelion clock in the breeze. And, bonus, I seem to be able to speak English like a bloody native!’
‘Shut the fuck up, I need to think!’ shouted Barry.
‘And how’s that working out for you? Thinking…? Not your strength is it Barry. Sooner punch me than have a conversation?
Barry, the ‘fuck it’ man had had enough. He scrambled to his feet and towered over the dead girl, his fists flailing about wildly and shouting,
‘Shut the fuck up…! One more word…!’
‘One more word,’ said the girl defiantly.
Barry brought his fist down hard on the girl but met only sand.
‘Look Barry, you can’t hurt me anymore, no one can. I’m dead, but I can explain where you are and how you get out of here. So, just say ‘Fuck it,’ and sit down. Try to find a calm place inside and keep it close.’
Barry had exhausted his options: he couldn’t punch her quiet and he was all out of cunning. He sat back down, put his head against the cool glass and breathed deeply.
‘OK Dead, where am I?’
‘A sort of court.’
Barry opened one eye, saying, ‘And how do I get out of this hole?’
‘It’s not a hole. Well… metaphorically you are in a hole, but actually you are in an hourglass. There are thousands upon thousands of them here. Each one contains a blackened soul like yours. Each soul must deal with its demons, ‘fess-up’. Strictly speaking it’s a twelve-hour glass. You have spent about six of your earth hours here already. You have six hours left to confront yourself, be honest, spill your guts and hopefully see where it all went wrong. If you don’t comply or you chose to lie, or hide the truth about Barry the ‘fuck it’ man then the glass turns and you get buried under all this sand,’ she said tapping the sand with her delicate dead hand.
‘This is crazy,’ said Barry.
‘Yes, it is and the best bit is that I get to judge your fate. Convince me that you should live and you get a second chance: fail and it’s all the way to hell with you.’
Barry took a handful of sand and let it run through his fingers.
‘I am who I am. I didn’t make me this way; the cards are dealt to us. I got my hand and you got yours. I have nothing to apologise for, nothing to confront. I don’t lie to myself or to others. I know what I am and I know who I am, which is more than can be said for a lot of people.’
‘Let’s talk about your mother.’
Barry gave Dead a cold stare.
‘What gives you the right to judge me? You’re just a whore.’
‘You made me a whore, Barry. Before I was kidnapped and taken away from my home and my family, I was a student. I played the piano, I went out with friends, walked in the park, dreamed impossible dreams but dreamed them nevertheless. I had a life and an identity. I was another human being. I knew that humanity had darker shades. I wasn’t totally naive. But I had no idea that men like you and that rat, Erik, existed. You aren’t men, you aren’t even animals, you are evil and evil creatures like you deserve to be destroyed.’
Barry laughed long and hard. He hadn’t laughed in a long time. Not much to laugh about. He said,
‘There is no evil, there is no good, there is only Life. Only the strong survive, red in tooth and claw. In the end we have little choice, we all just ride along the track until it ends.’
‘You want a bowl to mix those metaphors in, Barry?’
A growl grew stronger in Barry’s throat.
Dead continued, ’You mean to say that you believe in fate? That once you are on a trajectory, that’s it, you’re a passenger?’
‘What a cop-out, that’s absurd.’
Barry growled, ‘So what do you have planned for the next six hours Dead?’
‘You will never get out of here unless you open up. If you can see that you have become a negative force in the world and that you can, with that recognition, change for the better, then I can let you go. If not, you will perish.’
‘What’s wrong with negative; why does negative have such a bad reputation? Without the negative there would be no positive. Not everybody wants to be the good guy.’
Dead stood up, walked over to Barry and stood naked before him and with one hand on her hip and the other gesticulating in the fashion of her mother she bore down on him.
‘Ok Barry, you don’t want to talk about how Mummy killed herself, how Daddy beat you and blamed you? Blamed you for her suicide, blamed you for making him hit you, blamed you for his drinking, his weakness, his inability to keep a job, find another partner, just about everything. You don’t want to talk about how and when, ‘Fuck it Barry’ was born out of trauma, fear and shame, well fine but if you are not going to open up then I will tell you about what happened to me. Now Barry it’s important that you understand what I’m looking for, I’m looking for regret, for acknowledgement, for sorrow, for empathy. You demonstrate any of the above then we have a case for your emancipation, not just physically but spiritually. You got that Barry?’
‘What are you? The Ghost of Christmas Past?”
‘No, I’m Clara’ said Dead. ‘And right now I despise you. You make my dead skin crawl. You personify everything I believe to be evil in the world. You dumbfound me with your callous cruelty, your utter detachment, your misogyny and your sociopathic, controlling, centre-of-everything narcissism. And so, even if it makes your ears bleed to hear it, I’m going to tell you about my life, or, how you took it from me!
How fucking dare you?’ Clara continued, ‘Who the fuck do you think you are anyway? Sucking the life out of people, destroying people for your…what? Gain? Pleasure? Amusement? It’s just a game to you, isn’t it?’
‘Yes, fuck or get fucked!’ shouted Barry. ‘Jesus, Dead, if you were alive right now I’d fucking kill you, slowly … But not before having you raped by stinking tramps!’
‘But not you Barry, you won’t fuck me will you Barry? Here I am! I’m dead but down here, all alone in the half-light I must look like a pretty good proposition to you? But you don’t fuck whores do you Barry? Why is that Barry? Why don’t you fuck whores?
‘Shut the fuck up!’
‘Is it because…’
‘Mummy was a…’
Barry lost his cool. Incandescent rage erupted inside him. He couldn’t see anything through the volcanic lava pouring down and over the inside of his skull. The last time someone had eluded to his mother’s occupation, outside a pub in Gilford, Barry had beaten the man to a pulp. The man’s face was unrecognisable and yet the rage continued, as did the assault. He heard through the fog of his temper the screams of hysterical onlookers and someone say, ‘That’s enough Barry.’
Barry had stopped briefly from his labours and said coldly and clearly, ‘I’ll decide when it’s enough!’ The man was dead long before Barry had decided he’d ‘had enough’. Surprisingly no one witnessed the murder…apparently.
Now Barry was on his feet punching thin air but the air dodged his blows like a pro. The only solid thing he could hit was the smooth wall of the hourglass, and so, needing to make contact with something solid, Barry punched the glass. The glass didn’t give, ‘Didn’t feel a thing,’ it mumbled quietly.
‘Breathe Barry, breathe.’
Barry passed out.
He was lying in his childhood bed, wearing freshly laundered skin, wearing freshly-laundered pyjamas. His Mother sat on the bed next to him combing his hair; he’d rough it up once she left for work but for now it felt nice, cosy, safe.
‘Would you like me to tell you story Barry?’
Barry struggled for a moment with the concept, she’d never asked before. He plumped for a meek, ‘Yes.’
And so his mother began…
‘Clara grew up in a poor part of Eastern Europe. Clara, when she was a girl, didn’t know that she was poor. When everyone you know has roughly the same amount of nothing there’s no comparison. Clara and her friends all made their own toys and, if they had a bike, it was inherited or salvaged. Likewise clothes were hand made or hand-me-downs and no one batted an eye.
And you know what Barry? She was really happy.
Clara had a mum and dad just like you. Her dad mended cars and her mother was a part-time teaching assistant. Clara’s mother helped her with schoolwork and encouraged Clara to study. Clara had two younger sisters and plenty of family and friends.
When Clara became older, a teenager, she began to hear stories of ‘The West’. In The West the streets were not quite paved with gold, but rather something far more valuable: opportunity. No one went hungry and everyone could be, with a little application, anything that they wanted to be.
Clara soon began to dream of going to The West, of studying hard and getting a job in America or England or Germany or France. She would send money home to her parents and to her sisters. Dad could buy a half descent car of his own and the young ones could have all the books they needed to help them with their studies. Mum could buy a new dress and not, for once, have to ‘make do’.
One day Clara was walking through the woods, on her way to visit her grandmother. She carried a basket on her arm with bread and jam and fruits from the garden. Sounds idyllic doesn’t it, Barry? Clara was dreaming of The West, as she often did, when a wolf, which had been watching her for days, popped out from behind a tree and surprised her. The wolf, whose name was Erik, seemed very charming. He walked Clara to her grandmother’s. He wasn’t like the other young wolves, he was smart and worldly and very handsome. Erik had also been to The West, which impressed Clara greatly, and he promised to tell her all about it one day soon. Erik stopped short of grandma’s garden gate and said, ‘Probably not a good idea for your grandmother to see me’. And with that, he turned tail and fled.
At grandma’s the woodcutter stopped by to bid good day, as was his wont, and then proceeded to warn both the elder and the younger woman to be vigilant,
‘There are wolves in sheep’s clothing,’ he said and added, just to bring it home to them, ‘Don’t trust anyone apart from your kin…and even then be wary of Uncle Thomas.’
A few days later Erik popped up again, this time offering to take her to the local fair, buy her some candy-floss and drive her around in a dodgem. Men always drove the cars where Clara was from; it was a man’s world. Clara agreed to go. After all, it sounded so American. And Erik had been to The West so he could give her first-hand knowledge. But also, lets not forget, she thought he was very handsome.
It all sounds so lovely doesn’t Barry? Like a fairy tale?
They had a lovely time at the fair and, what’s more, Clara let Erik kiss her. She’d never kissed anyone before, not like that. When Erik dropped Clara off at her parents’ house Clara was on cloud nine. That’s a metaphor for ‘happy’ Barry. Did you know that?
Erik told her that he could arrange carriage to England and, what’s more, sort her out a job in a hospital. Clara so wanted to be a nurse, and a job in a hospital was her dream. She really loved caring for people; making other people happy was her magic.
All she had to do was to hand over all her official documents to Erik and he’d take care of the rest. What a fucking prince.
The very next day Erik met her in the woods. This time she knew he’d be there; it’s what they had arranged.
Clara was so excited! A new life in The West, an opportunity to help her parents financially and her sisters too.
It was almost too good to be true.
As soon as Clara handed over her paperwork Erik punched her hard in the face. For a while after that everything got a little blurry. You know, like when you spin around too many times in the playground?
She did remember being bundled into the boot of a car. She was there for so long she pissed herself, which isn’t very nice is it Barry? It’s the beginning of a long process of de-humanising someone.
After the car boot Clara was bundled into the back of a lorry with some water and some dried fruit. Clara was in the lorry for a very long time. It was dark, she was alone, cold and very frightened. She didn’t know what the fuck was happening to her. Why was she being treated this way? She thought that Erik was nice, that he wanted to help her, that he even might love her. How wrong she was Barry.
When the nightmare journey ended she woke up in her beloved West. But it wasn’t quite like she’d imagined. The opportunities were still there but not apparently for her.
On the first night she was delivered to a hovel somewhere in London where she was taken in by a strange woman. The woman was from The East like her, spoke her mother tongue, but that’s where the similarity ended.
Clara was bathed and dressed to look like a cheap Bavarian whore, then tied to a bed where she was raped by countless, faceless men. All through the nightmare Clara protested, screamed and struggled. The nasty women told the rapists that ‘she loved this kind of thing’. This was simply not true.
The next day, bright and early, she was sold like a piece of meat to a horrid, nasty man who put her to work on the streets. She was made to take drugs, to have sex with dirty old men, to take a man’s cock in her mouth, her arse, her pussy or all at once if the money was right.
Clara was told that if she questioned, complained, squealed to the police or in any other way upset ‘the management’ she would be hurt. What’s more, her sisters back home would be raped, her mother beaten, and her father dragged through the town, tied to the back of a pick-up truck!
Clara had no choice.
Clara was not alone; there were many girls like her, all of them kept doped, tired and too busy to think.
All of them terrified of what might happen to them or to their families. They had become slaves. Her dream had died. Her prince turned out to be a cunt and her slave-master a little boy too afraid to feel.
Then one day a young man turned up who was different to the others. He had a dream, a fantasy – a destiny to fulfil and, as it turned out, their destinies were entwined. The young man, who looked like a weasel, saw an opportunity. He wanted to strangle Clara while he fucked her, which he did… until she was dead.
Barry stirred and he opened his eyes. Clara sat next to him, stroking his hair.
‘Get off me,’ mumbled Barry.
‘Did you like the story Barry?’
‘I liked the ending!’
‘Why do you hate me so much Barry?’
‘I don’t. I just don’t care.’
‘Do you want me to condemn you to an eternity of suffering?’
‘Go fuck yourself!’
‘Careful Barry: I’ll have you in contempt of court!’
‘This is no court. You are no judge. No one is. There is no Heaven, no Hell, no life after death. Just life. We are who we are. Look at you! You are dead. Why? I’ll tell you why. It’s because you are a victim. If you were more like me you wouldn’t be dead. Worried about other people all the time? Fuck them, fuck it, take care of YOURSELF – look after Number One. That’s what I do.’
Clara shrugged. ‘If I were you and you were me?’
‘’What was that noise?’ asked Barry.
‘It’s time. The hourglass is gearing up to turn. Shame… I really wanted to make you see what a nasty piece of work you are.’
‘I know what I am! I’m honest. I don’t pretend to be anything other than what I am.’
‘And what are you Barry?’
I am who I am and I carry out the responsibility of who I am very seriously. I’m not the ‘nicest’ person on the planet but I really don’t give a fuck. We don’t chose any of this,’ said Barry waving his arms in the air. ‘I couldn’t be anyone other than who I am any more than you could. Things happen, we react to those things and we always react to those things in a predictable way. Don’t you see?’ shouted Barry stabbing his chest with his finger,
‘I don’t have a fucking choice, this is me! Nothing can change that, its too late.’
Clara said, ‘Oh this is gonna be fun.’
‘You want redemption? You want some sort of vindication? It isn’t going to happen, bitch. You think that I am going to denounce myself rather than walk freely into the fire… that I’m going to fall to my knees and beg? Come on, we both know that’s bullshit?’
‘Barry, you turn good women into whores because it normalises the fact that your mother was a whore. Can’t you see? If you can accept it you can change, you can learn to love and not hate.’
The hourglass began to tilt.
‘Shit’s going down Barry…’
‘So let it. I’m not afraid. I don’t feel much apart from hatred. Love’s for other people, not me. I’ll survive this, and when I do, I’ll come back and kill you again.’
‘It’s stopped! Why’s it stopped?’ said Barry more to himself than to Clara.
‘I don’t know. Maybe to build up the tension, give you one last chance to see what a bastard you are?’
A blinding, bright light.
Barry tried to shield his eyes.
The hourglass turned.
Rushing noise, rushing sand.
‘I forgive you Barry!’
‘Fuck you!’ said Fuck It Barry.