It happened on a Friday and I remember every detail. The glass from the windows exploded and flames shot-out, licking their way up the bricks of the four-floor building on Wellington Street. Firefighters fumbled to attach a hose to the nearest hydrant as the suspects in question screamed in protest to arresting officers. But their claims of innocence went unheard over the sound of sirens and first-responders shouting out to one another.
I'm not a writer. Sketching flash for tattoos is more my thing. But since recent events have thrust an inordinate amount of time on my hands, I've decided to jot down the particular misadventure which brought me to this point in life. Plus there’s a writing contest deadline coming-up for the best works done by reforming offenders. Since How do I loathe thee, let me count the wounds, and Roses are red, corpses are blue doesn’t interest me, I figured I’d avoid the poetry category altogether, and give writing a short story a go to win the cash prize that’s up for grabs. (Reforming, ha! As if that were ever really possible.)
I guess technically the story I’m writing started when Pins went to visit Needles to sort out a problem. But I suppose you could say it truly began 12 years earlier. By hook or by crook (probably crook) or coincidental fate, I met my best mates on our first day of detention at Sir Thomas Abney Primary School in Hackney, North London. Pins' birthday was the sixth of October. Needles’ was the sixteenth, and mine, the twenty-sixth. From that day of detention onwards we were inseparable, outdoing one another’s mayhem at every turn and upping our antes a bit more every year.
Our parents and teachers didn’t know what to make of us—we were brazen-born yobs who should’ve fought one another for dominance, but instead became die-hard friends… conniving culprits who waged war against anything we pleased. Of course separating us was tried but you know that only ever makes kids band closer together. We cheated and lied for one another, bled for our collective honor, pierced each other’s bodies and helped keep our Mohawks in good condition. When Pins turned sixteen, I tattooed Repeat on the back of his neck, and Offenders on the back of Needles’ neck.
One year later we started a band in Needles’ mum’s garage. The neighbours put up with the noise because at least they knew where we were. As long as they heard Pins’ amplified screaming and my pounding on the drums they didn’t have to worry about The October Sixes breaking into their cars or pissing in their flower beds. We made a blood pact to practice every Saturday afternoon, and over the years have perfected a killer sound once described by an overly-protective mother leading a rally against us as: antagonistic abrasion. It was a complimentary insult, of course, which we used as our next album title. Who needs fans when enemies are so much more fanatic?
As we grew older our stunts grew grander. You know those big empty buildings in your city? Of course you do—they’re in every city and year after year they sit vacant as gigantic obvious testaments that the generation with the supposed power, money, and brains doesn’t really know what they’re doing. Well, a couple of years ago, in our city, we started a simple online fundraising campaign to generate money to rent one of those buildings for a greatly needed and undervalued all-aged music venue, and boy did that piss-off a lot of people! An all-aged venue started by juvenile punks, run by average teenagers to support and promote moshing musical adolescents with profits being recycled into more rent money. We came, we clicked, and we conquered without even having to march.
Our lot was also responsible for starting the widespread Plead NOT Guilty to every bloody ticket campaign. Remember that? It clogged-up the court system for three years, forcing magistrates to chastise police for enforcing petty violations so courtrooms could focus on cases which actually mattered. Haven't you noticed the filth pretending not to be aware when you’ve been speeding lately? You're welcome. Remember when someone spray-painted the words: Guinness Saves! on the front of the local AA recovery house? That was us. We never got caught neither, so unless you're fond of a fat lip, be a pal and keep your mouth shut.
Over time we’ve acquired a devoted following who first came out to our all-aged shows, but now that we’re a bit older, they catch our act in our favourite pubs—mostly places which don’t charge admission. We record our gigs then give away the songs for free online. No two October Sixes T-shirts are alike since we never had any commissioned. They’re all handmade by our fans. It’s a trend unique to our band, and the fun is in seeing everyone trying to out-do one another with different designs. I guess the only income the band really makes is when the crowd buys us shot after shot until we pass-out onstage, but we get paid in other ways. Like when Needles needed a new bass guitar, Hank’s Guitar Shop just handed him a Modulus Vertex 4. And whenever we’re in a restaurant, literally half of the time someone in the place pays our bill.
But our mind-blowing band and our big bold badness isn’t what made me start writing, so I’ll get back on point and do my best to tell you this tale. The following is a work in progress, and I’d like your opinion on it before I submit it as an official entry. Like I said, I’m no writer. Probably should’ve done this in comic book form but the contest didn’t have a category for comics. Oh well, here goes…
One Friday afternoon about two months ago, Pins showed up at Needles’ flat in a sweaty panic. He hadn't slept, his clothes were ripped, and he stank of cheap whisky.
“I just yacked in your garden—hope you don't mind,” he said as he entered.
“Did you yack on the dying marigolds or the tomatoes? Because I don't eat the marigolds.”
“All over the tomatoes.” He crashed his body down onto a 1972 Triumph Dolomite rear seat which masqueraded as a couch.
Anticipating his next request, his host tossed him a beer. “What's your trouble?”
“The usual trouble,” Pins droned.
“Of course, Polly. She snatched my keys and tossed me out.”
“What did you do this time?”
“She caught me again.”
“With who, another barmaid?”
“No, a waitress.”
“A waitress from where?”
“A waitress from The Roast.”
“A waitress from the bloody Roast? Polly’s job?”
“Little Franny? You’ve got to be joking.”
“She’s not little anymore.”
“That was stupid.”
“I know it was stupid!”
“Then why’d you do it?”
“It was an accident, I swear! I was drunk, she was there, but other than that I don’t remember anything.”
“Maybe nothing happened.”
“I woke up naked next to her on top of condom wrappers, so don’t tell me nothing happened! I cleared out of the place before Franny woke up, but she must’ve called Polly and told her because she knew all about it when I went home. Now it’s all over. I’m screwed, homeless, and the love of my life hates me.”
“Quit your moaning—Polly will forgive you, she always does.”
“No. I've really cocked-up this time—we're done. I've never seen her that angry!”
“You can crash here for a bit.”
“I'll ring Polly and see if I can get your stuff.”
Pins gulped down beer then shook his head. “No need. She's burning my clothes as we speak—the same thing she did the last time.”
“Not your Calling All Astronauts T-shirt, I hope—it was signed by the whole band!”
“She burned that one first. Ripped it right off my back, doused it with lighter fluid then used it to ignite the pile at her feet.”
“It’s okay, I’ll get another. Besides, the only thing I care about in that dump of a flat is my H.R. Giger limited edition signed print, and that's really why I'm here. I need your help to break in and lift it. She'll be out of town this weekend—escaping to the country to forget all about me. She said she’s ridding her head of me, all that we ever were, and when she comes back she swears she’ll have permanent amnesia.”
“I still say she’ll get over it, Pins. Meanwhile, are you sure we have to break into the place? Why don’t you let things cool down a bit then just ask her for the picture.”
“No way. She said she's selling it online—it's probably on there right now.”
“I thought you paid for it.”
“Meaning Polly put it on her credit card then I paid her cash, but not in full. We've got to break in there and get it.”
Needles grinned. “Well, where there's a will, there's a Weapon.”
Pins grinned in agreement. “Let's go fetch him.”
Weapon Fletcher, born on the 26th of October, was a rather handsome, talented, heroic, yet misunderstood member of The October Sixes who was the product of a perfectly average intact middleclass home. There were no heretics in his heritage, lunacy in his lineage, nor felons dangling from his family tree. Perhaps all that normality was what led to the inevitable wicked exception to be born from all of those unbroken rules.
It’s not unusual for a seven-year-old boy to want to ride the Stormforce 10 at Drayton Manor Theme Park. It is unusual, however, for a seven-year-old boy to climb out of the car during the water ride and deliberately swim away from rescuers. Once salvaged from the water, Weapon quickly feigned tears and claimed he had accidentally fallen off his boat. However, when the same thing happened the following year, his fake tears gave way to shrieks of laughter when several people on the scene started taking pictures of the water-soaked boy. He became the youngest person ever to be permanently banned from Drayton Manor. Although that didn’t stop him from sneaking into the theme park at nighttime whenever he pleased throughout the rest of his childhood, and on one bright sunny morning a shocked zookeeper discovered a young human form sleeping comfortably inside the pen of a tribe of black-headed spider monkeys.
Currently, Weapon was squatting in the basement of an off-license in Tottenham. Incidentally, it was the same offie which had made repeated attempts to sack the noble bloke even though he showed up religiously to work every day—so what if he was slightly pissed? After much dispute, the owner, who was somewhat averse to arson, wisely ceased his unjust campaign and let Weapon’s employment and living situation be as it may.
Rusting metal shop bells rattled as Pins and Needles walked into the musty, customer-free four walls known as Bargain Bill’s. Needles flicked-on the light switch by the door.
“Oi!” yelled Weapon as he squinted. “Flick it back off. We don’t need to spend money on lights while the sun’s still shining.”
“Isn’t that against code?” asked Needles.
“Whatever code needs obliging to operate a business.”
“You’re not wearing a badge, so don’t worry about it.” Weapon repositioned himself in his tattered chair behind the cash register and set aside the drawing he’d been working on as his eyes recuperated from the quick flash from the overhead lighting. Having always been the smartest guy in the band, and possessing a keen gift for sensing mischief, he sharply studied his friends’ faces for a few seconds, smiled in anticipation and asked, “Let me guess… you two have a fresh situation, eh?”
“And you need my help?”
They nodded again. By this time in Pins and Needles’ lives, they had finally learned from experience not to undertake new ventures by themselves before seeking proper advice and aid.
As boys, the pair seemed to get caught in everything they did. Although attempting all manner of delinquencies, for some reason they shared an unexplainable love of coins. From nicking money from church and charitable collections to diving in wishing wells and fountains, no coin was safe from their snatching fingers. They had a superior knack for extracting the shiny round treasures from every type of device designed to keep them safely housed: vending machines, shopping trolleys, arcade games, parking meters, even slot machines weren’t safe from their touch. But typically, the team had always been apprehended. Their problem was never in acquiring what they wanted, but in keeping it.
So they presented their plan to Weapon who listened intently, after which he stated, “Not bad, but it needs a few adjustments.”
“That’s why we’re here,” said Pins.
“You know none of this would be necessary if you’d just stop cheating and finally treat Polly right.”
“I warned her years ago to dump you.”
“Years ago she did dump me.”
“Yeah, but you didn’t stay dumped. You slithered your way back to her, and time after ridiculous time she kept forgiving you.”
“That’s insanity, but whatever. I gave up when she didn’t listen to me after the first, second, and third times. Her heart’s blood’s on her own hands now.”
Weapon rose from his chair, walked to a long row of metal shelves, swiped a fresh bottle of Chase vodka, opened it and started sipping while pacing back and forth and thinking. After a few minutes of weighing all conceivable problems and factors, he said, “We’re doing this tonight, right?”
“I think I have everything necessary except for rope so you’ll need to get some.”
“Why do we need rope?” asked Pins.
“Because we always need to bring rope.”
“You say that every time, and every time I end up carrying this heavy thing of rope, yet never, not once over all these years have we actually used the bloody rope. Most of the time I end up leaving it on site so I can run away faster, and then I’m out the cost of the rope.”
“Look, rope’s a standard item, and now’s not the time to mess with tradition.”
“Why not?” asked Needles. “Why can’t we think of a different item to bring instead of rope?”
Weapon was starting to get frustrated. “Look, you two came to me for help, so we do things my way, alright?”
“But Pins does have a point, mate. Plus just carrying it around makes us look suspicious.”
“Fine!” yelled Weapon. “What do you recommend bringing instead of rope?”
“I don’t know. I’d have to think about it.”
“Well when you do end up thinking of something to bring in place of rope, whatever it is, remember to bring it with you tonight! Now, let’s get serious and discuss all the details… ”
Polly’s flat was on the fourth floor of a free-standing brick building on Wellington Street. The third-floor tenants had wisely cleared out six months prior. The ever-volatile relationship of Pins and Polly was filled with ongoing fighting, noise, and unavoidable plaster crashing down from the ceiling, proving too much for any neighbour to bear. Once the third-floor people left, all the third-floor cockroaches, which hadn’t climbed aboard packed-boxes of belongings, climbed atop the backs of the third-floor vermin and collectively they fled to the second-floor apartment. This act subsequently caused those tenants to vacate the building as well. With only the eruptive fourth-floor flat or the coffee shop on the first floor from which to choose, the cockroaches and vermin pilgrimaged their way through cracks, over wires, and down pipes, electing to make their new home in the coffee shop known as: The Roast.
Truth be told, when The Roast first opened it had been a most lovely establishment. It had been the brainchild of a feisty woman named Ms. Charlene Celine, who invested every bit of a divorce settlement into renovating the first floor with fresh walls, bright coats of paint, the best roasting equipment, posh furnishings, and hand-painted china cups. Patrons enjoyed her hot brews, tasteful tea selection, and decadent gourmet edibles. Back then The Roast played host to all types of artists, poets, and aspiring philosophising politicos. It was the new hot place to be and to be seen in.
But as happens with many shop and building owners, Charlene Celine kept the front of house looking smart while putting-off fixing up the three flats above until making a decent profit. She never actually did get around to doing the work because during her first year of unbridled success, she fell madly in love with Bedo Edwards, a handsome and charmingly disturbed poet twelve years her junior. They began an intimate entanglement then became practically inseparable once Charlene Celine found out that Bedo was a member of the Manhattan Edwards’, a Welsh family whose wealth had endured every single economic crisis ever known.
One brisk November morning a few months later, Bedo awoke to find himself boutonniered, vowed, ringed, and subsequently married just before being whisked aboard a flight to America where his new bride insisted they set up residence with Bedo’s terminally-ailing widowed mother. Charlene Celine left her post at The Roast to her brother, Cecil, and never looked back.
But Cecil Celine was nothing like his sister. He was an introvert who didn’t know how to properly run any type of business and preferred privacy to the publicity of a busy coffee house. After two years he sold the place for less than its value to a shrewd but dodgy man whose plan to increase profits was to decrease quality whilst raising prices and running various illegal activities upstairs. It didn’t take but a minute for patrons to switch their allegiance to a more fashionable up-and-coming competing coffee house two blocks away. Profits plummeted and in time the weakened business and building were eventually sold again, this time to pay for the owner’s mounting solicitor fees.
The next owner was a reluctant man named Winthrop, who had purchased the building as a last-ditch-gift-effort for his ageing overbearing live-in mother. His clever plan was to provide her with a place where she’d remain occupied, and her endless advice could be channeled into the ears of others rather than into his own. However, just as the ink on the real estate contract dried, dear old mummy collapsed dead from a stroke, leaving Mr. Winthrop with a business he hadn’t really wanted.
Three ownerships later and the deed to The Roast lay in the hands of a retired corrupt banking executive named Mr. Johns. He had hired Polly when she was seventeen, thinking a young cute girl was just what the place needed to attract patrons. It worked, but those who Polly attracted were a select handful of the local rebellious punk crowd who acted more like squatters than customers. They were loud loiterers who snuck in bottles of booze and drew small obscene pictures on the floor and walls. Barely any of them actually bought coffee or food.
After a month of employment, Polly moved into the fourth floor flat and crossed her heart in a promise to Mr. Johns that she’d positively, most definitely not ever under any condition nor circumstance have anyone else living with her. Pins moved in five minutes later.
The Roast had become a thin ghost of its previous self, earning its only real income by selling bulk grounds to nearby restaurants. For five years Mr. Johns had thought about getting rid of Polly, but each time he mustered the courage, she seemed to know it. In response she either sweetened up or toughened up, sensing whichever angle would work best, causing the proprietor to weaken and chicken-out each and every time. Simply put, he was afraid of her… plenty of people were afraid of her… including her parents… and her grandparents.
At age twelve, Polly had faked her own kidnapping and used her mum and dads’ ransom money to treat herself to a lavish weekend at The Wellesley Hotel. But when she wasn’t returned home and the ‘kidnapper’ demanded more money, the police were successfully able to trace the call. Five officers, guns drawn, burst into a luxurious suite to find her naked, save for a top hat, sitting in a bathtub full of whipped cream and strawberries. She was smoking a fine cigar and drunk on Cognac. At first she claimed her kidnapper had just sold her to two priests, but her drunken cries soon slurred into laughter, exposing the lie. Her parents decided not to press charges against their own daughter and literally had to beg the authorities not to lock her up.
After the meeting at Bargain Bill’s, in the dark small hours of the morning, Needles and Weapon, dressed in standard head-to-toe all-black, waited for Pins in the alley behind The Roast on Wellington Street.
As Pins quietly rounded the corner of the building to join them, Weapon stared in bewilderment when he took note to what was in his friend’s right hand.
“What the devil is that?” Weapon asked.
“It’s a pet carrier,” answered Pins.
“Why’d you bring a pet carrier?”
“It’s in place of the rope.”
“What good’s a pet carrier gonna be?”
Needles suddenly doubled-over from a stomach cramp. He moaned, “Guys, I must’ve eaten something funny. My guts feel all messed-up.”
Pins explained his choice of equipment, “I know it doesn’t seem practical, but it’s necessary.”
Weapon disagreed. “Necessary? Plus it’s bright yellow! What were you thinking? I hope you know you’re not taking that thing inside.”
“Of course I’m taking it inside—it’s for Hans.”
“I thought that thing died.”
“No, Dante died. We bought Hans last week.”
“You didn’t tell me kidnapping an iguana was on the menu; all we’re supposed to be doing is lifting a picture!”
“It’s not kidnapping. He’s half mine, so I decided as long as we’re breaking-in why not get Hans as well?”
“You could’ve at least spray-painted the carrier black so it wouldn’t stand-out.”
“No I couldn’t. Spray paint’s not good for an iguana’s skin.”
Needles’ stomach groaned loudly. “Seriously, guys, I don’t feel so good.”
Weapon slapped Needles across his face. “We need three men for this operation so quit your belly-aching!”
“But my belly is aching, and how is it a three-man job? Why can’t just two do it?”
“Fine! Granted, it’s more like a two-man job—one to nick the Giger print and the other to stand as lookout, but since the two of you put together are more like one person, it’s a three man job. And now with this added iguana issue we definitely need three people. Get yourself together, be a man, and let’s go!”
The three of them shuffled to the metal rear exit door of the first floor and Weapon readied his crowbar.
“Are you positive there’s no alarm system?” he asked Pins one final time.
“Positive. It hasn’t worked in years. Go ahead.”
Weapon spread his feet wide then wedged the hook of the crowbar into the tight space where the door’s lock would most likely be positioned on the other side. It only took him thirty seconds-worth of strong pressure to gain entry then he stealthily led the way through the coffee house’s dark back rooms towards the building’s main staircase.
“Do you guys smell something?” whispered Pins.
Weapon whispered back, “Yeah, coffee, stupid, cut it out.”
“Not coffee, I’m serious—I smell something odd.”
As they climbed up the stairwell to the second floor, Needles complained, “I’m telling you guys again, I’m not well!”
“Hold your puke for a few minutes,” said Pins. “We’ll be out of here in less than five.”
“I don’t have to puke. I need the toilet!” He yanked the crowbar away from Weapon, brushed past the two of them and dashed up the stairs ahead. “I need the toilet now!”
“Know what?” said Weapon to Pins, “I agree with you—now I smell something too.”
“Not funny!” Needles whispered over his shoulder.
“Not you, Needz, I mean, I think I smell gas or something.”
“Yes!” said Pins, “that’s what it smells like. But Polly’s in the country right now and no one else lives here, so no one’s cooking. Do you think there’s a leak somewhere? Should we call someone?”
Weapon stopped suddenly on the staircase, grabbed Pins’ arm, looked him in the eyes then whispered forcefully, “What exactly would you say? Excuse me operator, but as we were robbing this place we noticed a funny odor and thought we’d do our civic duty? Don’t get all mental, Pins. Let’s do what we came here to do then clear out!”
Having made it first to the fourth floor, Needles used the crowbar to make quick work of gaining entry to Polly’s flat then ran to the toilet and slammed shut the door.
Once inside, Weapon stood as lookout while Pins lifted the H.R. Giger signed picture from its proud place on the front room’s main wall. Next he ran to Hans’ cage, but Hans wasn’t there. Not wanting to turn on a light to draw attention, he squinted and searched the cage from corner to corner, yet still he saw no Hans. He started whispering the pet’s name while squinting into the shadows of the room.
“He’s not a puppy, Pins,” said Weapon as they both endured horrid sounds coming from the toilet. “Do you honestly expect him to come out running, leap up into your arms, and lick your face? Seriously, you’re more mental than… wait… do you smell that?”
A new smell hit Pins at the same time it entered Weapon’s nostrils, leading the two of them to announce loudly in unison, “Smoke!”
Needles called out in response from his seat on the toilet, “I didn’t bring any—thought I’d bum from you guys.”
Pins and Weapon stood paralyzed for a moment as they heard the unexpected approach of footsteps coming up the main staircase accompanied by a subtle sound of water which conflicted greatly with the smoke smell. Soon a fourth form dressed in standard head-to-toe all-black entered the flat.
Pins pulled a small torch from a pocket and shone it on the newcomer. “Mr. Johns? What are you doing here?”
“I own this place, what are you doing here? Polly said she tossed you out and I’m to ring the police if you turn back up while she’s away.”
Staring at the kerosene can in the proprietor’s hand and realizing it hadn’t been the sloshing wet sound of water he’d heard a few seconds ago, Pins confidently replied to Mr. Johns, “Go ahead, ring them!”
“Not now, I’m busy. Can’t you see that?”
“What are you doing?”
“What does it look like I’m doing? I’m lighting things up!”
“You know this place hasn’t been making any money. It’s worth more in ash than in brick!”
“How can you muck-up selling coffee?” Weapon asked. “People want coffee. It practically sells itself, like crack or Avon.”
“It’s not the coffee’s fault. It’s all you bloody punks who’ve been hanging-out in the place, scaring away paying customers.”
“Oh, real classy—blaming customers you do have for the lack of customers you don’t have. Is that what they taught you at some savvy business school?”
The smell of smoke from below grew more intense and Weapon quickly shut the apartment’s door. “Did you spark the fire already?”
“Of course I did. I started in the basement and worked my way up here.”
“But that’s madness! Everyone knows you douse the accelerant from top to bottom, not bottom to top. That way when you light it you can run out from the main floor. But now you’ve trapped yourself and us!”
Mr. Johns scratched his balding head and realized in retrospect that yes, Weapon’s way would’ve indeed been much better.
“What was your plan to get out?” asked Pins.
“I’ve got this.” Mr. Johns pointed to a stretch of rope wrapped around his waist.
Weapon only glared at Pins because words weren’t needed.
The sweating proprietor dabbed his forehead with a handkerchief. “My God, it’s really getting hot in here!”
“Hot?” Pins yelled. “That’s what happens when you torch a building, you daft old man—the temperature has a tendency to rise!”
Mr. Johns ignored him as he searched his pockets and muttered to himself, “Where is it? I had it just a minute ago. I couldn’t have left it… oh drat, I must’ve. I did! I left it downstairs.”
“Left what?” asked Weapon.
As Needles exited the toilet, Mr. Johns asked aloud, “Have any of you got a light?”
Pins started to protest.
Weapon started to protest.
But neither protestation reached Needles’ ears in time before he obligingly pulled a lighter from his front jeans pocket and placed it into the old man’s gloved hand. “I don’t got smokes, but I’ve got a light.”
The next few moments of time melted together in what can only be described as a frazzled conglomeration of total messiness. While Needles was accused of being a useless twonk, Mr. Johns ran to the rear bedroom, un-wrapped the rope from around his waist, secured one end to a radiator then threw the other end out a window. At some point Needles’ lighter was put to use as Pins shouted-out frantically for Hans. The smoke grew thicker and the sound of approaching fire engines caused Weapon to violently shove Needles through the flames towards the rear bedroom’s window. He then darted back to the front room, kicked the pet carrier from Pins’ hand and dragged him to the back bedroom as well.
It was a slow downward climb for Pins as he was the last one descending the rope, insistent on saving his precious H.R. Giger print. His feet hadn’t even touched the ground when the police arrived on scene…
And that brings us back to where we started. How do you like the piece so far? Did you catch many errors? I really need your opinion on the story. As I said, it happened on a Friday, and I remember every detail. The glass from the windows exploded and flames shot-out, licking their way up the bricks of the four-floor building on Wellington Street. Mr. Johns, covered in fake tears, panted heavily while pointing a falsely-accusing finger at The October Sixes who shouted and squirmed as they were apprehended. By reason of probability, they were immediately presumed guilty.
I know all of this because I secretly filmed the whole thing while trying terribly hard not to laugh. I got a great shot of the three of them, hands cuffed behind their backs, sitting in a perfect line along a curb across the street from the burning building.
Oh, I’m sorry—you thought Weapon might have been the ‘reforming offender’ penning the story? No. My name’s Polly. Weapon’s my younger brother—younger by only four and a half minutes but still, I’ve never let him forget it.
So I suppose apologies are in order. You’ll receive official acknowledgement of this offense within a week. Misdirection has always been one of my tastiest playthings.
I don’t care either way.
What I do care about is finishing this story before the contest deadline, so stop whining and let me get on with it. I’ll probably write the ending in some sort of typical fable-like repentant sinners learning their lesson bit, but you know it’ll be fake—just something to ensure I win the prize money. So just between you and me, totally off the record, here’s the truth…
I really did get a great shot of the guys as they sat in a perfect line, hands cuffed behind them. Below their singed Mohawks, upon the back of their bare necks read the bold tattooed words: Are Repeat Offenders. However, had I been sitting on the far left end of that line, the full sentence would’ve read: We Are Repeat Offenders. Too bad I wasn’t in the picture—it would’ve made a fantastic cover for our next album. Although, I suppose I could photo-shop myself in and that would work. I’m imagining an all black-and-white cover with only the handcuffs showing up in silver. That would look cool, what do you think?
As I told you, recent events have thrust an inordinate amount of time on my hands. With my job up in flames and the rest of The October Sixes sitting in prison awaiting trial, I haven’t had a place of employment and our band hasn’t been able to play any shows. I still sketch flash and was smart enough to remove my tattoo gun from the flat before the fire, so I haven’t been knocking-about broke or hungry. And stop worrying about Hans—I grabbed him from the flat as well.
You see, the last time Pins messed around I decided to teach him a lesson and was waiting for the appropriate time and circumstance to present itself. So when I secretly, serendipitously, completely by accident uncovered Mr. Johns’ plan to toast The Roast late Friday night (well, technically Saturday morning, although personally I’m a believer of moon equals night and sun equals morning) I thought of a way to use the circumstance to my advantage and tie everything together. Was it coincidence that Franny was sitting next to Pins in a pub the night before the fire? No. Franny owed me a favor so I collected by having her get my boyfriend obliterated then take him to her place, lay him down in her bed then strip him bare after he’d passed out (the condom wrappers were her idea; it was a nice touch—wish I had thought of it first). Nothing at all happened between the two of them—Franny, unlike Pins… knows better.
By telling Pins I planned on selling his precious H.R. Giger print online, I gave him the motive to break into the flat. By telling him I planned on going to the country to forget him, I gave him the opportunity. And right on time, the two crimes nicely coincided. Everyone knows the proper time to attack a building is around four o’clock a.m. That’s when the streets are quietest and most everyone’s asleep, even die-hard late-night drunks. Did I feel sorry that Needles got apprehended as well as Pins? Absolutely not—I expected that. Did I feel sorry that my own brother Weapon was involved in the mix? Positively not! Through reverse charge calls from prison he confessed the full story to me on how Pins and Needles had come to him with a plan which he could’ve refused—how dare he help the two of them break into my flat!
After a couple of months in lock-up I really hope Pins has finally learned his lesson. He’s mine and nobody else’s. Now maybe he’ll behave for a while, hopefully forever. An hour ago I anonymously sent investigators the video evidence of Mr. Johns entering the front of the building with cans of kerosene just a few minutes prior to my guys entering from the rear. It also shows Mr. Johns climbing down the rope first, and when he realized he couldn’t flee on foot without being noticed, he ran to the police and blamed the fire on those who were conveniently on the scene.
I imagine the charges against my best mates will eventually be dropped, H.R. Giger can be retrieved from the evidence locker, and we can get on with our lives. Right now I’m on my way to the prison with bail money donated by our fans. I’ll take the guys out for a few pints then come clean with what really happened. My only regret is that the whole thing couldn’t be properly timed to coincide with the first of April. Still, I can’t wait to see the looks on their faces!
Thanks for listening. Your opinion and suggestions will be greatly appreciated. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org but write soon so I can make any necessary changes and enter on time to win the contest!
By the way, I think it’s time for The October Sixes to finally go on our first official tour. It turns out our fans were able to raise more than enough money for bail so we’ve got spending cash to do a little travelling. All the guys’ passports are tucked safely away within my jacket, but where should the tour begin? Hmmm, I think we’ll start with your town. If you wanna hang out, we’ll be at the coffee shop. Not the nice one. No. We’ll meet up with you in that other place.