Monday 4th September 2017
Sometimes a writer’s thoughts are just too terrible to be published...
Kurtis abruptly lifted his pen as the window cleaner’s ladder clattered on the ledge. The large man began to ascend to Kurtis’s tiny flat, but before the cleaner had got to the top of the ladders, Kurtis had made his escape into the kitchenette, resenting this puncture to his solitude. He had forgotten it was a Monday, all the days had rolled into one during that summer.
‘You putting the kettle on mate?’ The man at the window shouted. ‘Two sugars for me, if you’re feeling generous’. Kurtis was not feeling generous. The cleaner’s knuckles tapped at the window to get his attention and Kurtis turned on the kettle.
‘If you’re putting on the kettle mate, mine’s two sugars,’ increasing his volume, trailing off with an afterthought of laughter. The temperature gauge rose. Seventy degrees. Eighty degrees. Ninety degrees.
'Any bickies?’ He laughed again, slamming a soapy shammy onto the single glazing. One hundred degrees. It was not a whistling type of kettle and just calmly clicked into cool mode. Kurtis walked into the living room and opened the window, like a hibernating animal venturing out of its scruffy burrow. How long had it been since he’s left the house? Had it been a week ? Two? A month?
‘I’d been meaning to have a word with you. I don’t need the windows cleaned anymore.’
‘Was only joking about bickies mate’. Then the man on the ladder, noticed the removal boxes, containing Kurtis’s meagre personal effects.
‘You moving on?’
‘Something like that.’ Kurtis gently closed the fragile window and pulled the faded curtains shut, to block out the noise from school opposite.
Tuesday 5th September 2017
I feel ready now. I miss you more that words can say, If you were here with me, then I could tell you in person, but I accept you can’t be, we’ve discussed it till you were blue in the face. So, if you can’t be with me , I will come to you. I miss your long blonde hair, the way that those few strands would stick to your pink lip-gloss.
Most guys would call me queer. They’d be wanting to do all sorts of animal acts to you. I was never like that. Maybe if I could be more like those guys, things would have been different between us?
That window cleaner thinks I’m gay. I don’t know his name, nor does he know mine. We only use the common male linguistic device of ‘Mate’ ( with the occasional ‘Matey’ thrown in to spice things up). I’m sure he thinks I’m gay. I was never much good at joining in with all that ‘what I wouldn’t do to her’ banter. Most of them presume I’m gay, I let them think it now, it’s easier. He’s a prick anyway.
I hadn’t planned to do it, get rid of him, it was a spur of the moment thing. He’s not my mate anyway. If he was my mate in the literal sense, we would copulate. If we were mates, in the sociological sense, we would be down the boozer every night, comparing sexual triumphs. He just cleans my windows.
I’ll go early to the bank tomorrow. The young girl is on the counter in the mornings, otherwise could get lumbered with that cocky lad. He’s fond of calling male customers ‘Boss’, a more trendy urban version of ‘Mate’, but equally annoying. The world is full of frauds. You are the only one who is not a fraud Chloe.
Yesterday I went to see the expensive one I told you about, not the patronising NHS one (bloody NHS). She said I should send these diaries off, ‘You could be like that famous writer in olden days, the Fire of London writer’. It was at that moment, I knew she couldn’t help me any more than the others could, which was not much. I muttered ‘Samuel’ under my breath, but the sound of me slamming her office door drowned out the ‘Peeps’ bit.
They didn’t like the poems or the plays I sent them. What does she know about getting published?
I won’t let you down Chloe.
As his money was pushed under the bullet proof glass by a perfectly manicured hand, Kurtis was unable to make eye contact with the bank clerk, increasingly aware of his visible sweat patch, exposed by the large brown box tucked under his arm.
Squinting in the autumn sunlight, he made his way along Cheadle Village. Every time he saw the High Street sign, he would cringe at the grandiosity of naming it a High Street, when it was just an small strip of mundane shops. Opening the door to Save The Children, a chiming bell version of She’ll be Coming Round The Mountain was triggered by his stepping on the shop’s welcome mat.
‘Are those for us? Are you a Gift Aider?’ Kurtis was greeted by the manager’s operatic voice, more suited to the Cheadle Armature Dramatics Society, than a charity with a goal to save children. Looking at the heaving bosom, fast approaching him, Kurtis noticed a name badge attached to the intimidating mammary glands. It read: Manager - Cathy.
‘Yes,’ he mumbled.
‘What’s your postcode?’
‘Why? Why do you need my postcode?’ He panicked.
‘To look you up on our system.’
‘Why would I be on your system? I’ve never been here before.’
‘You said you were a Gift Aider?’
‘I have no idea what that is, I would just like to donate these please.’ Kurtis passed the box to Cathy.
‘Do you take cash donations?’
‘Oh yes,’ she winked theatrically. ‘There’s a donations tin just here.’
‘No. That won’t do, it’s not all coins.’ He thrust the brown envelope of his life savings into her hand.
‘Oh my. Gosh, well, that’s so generous of you. Thank you, so very much. May I ask how much is it?’
‘£428.57,’ he replied, reaching for the shop door.
‘Wait a minute. Don’t you go anywhere mister, it’s not every day such a rich young man walks into my shop, I must give you a receipt’, she laughed, ‘and my number’.
‘Oh, hold on a minute, I think there’s special form for large donations’ she rummaged under the counter, but Kurtis was not going to wait for the inevitable inuendo. She’ll Be Coming Round The Mountain chimed once more and he was gone.
Wednesday 6th September 2017
If I had to spend another moment with that infuriating woman at the shop, I would have throttled her. I’m so glad you didn’t turn out like her Chloe. They are the worst type of woman, old, fat, desperate. Not like you, my porcelain doll. Trying to flirt with me? All she is flirting with is the menopause! All I wanted to do was to run straight back to be with you, here in these pages. There was me, trying to do a good thing and it backfires on me. I can hardly hold this pen I’m shaking so much, at the crassness of it all.
I passed our ‘Mate’ the window cleaner on the way back, he pretended not to see me, but he did. Whistling he was, WHISTLING!
I’m going to make it up to you, I promise. This is no way for us to live.
I have got a good mind not to go to work tonight, there’s not much point really is there? I should have given it up last year, but once again just saying yes, to keep everyone else happy. Where’s our happiness Chloe? It hurts more than anything to go to work and see the student’s eager eyes, hoping I will be able to teach them how to turn their terrible free verse into a bloody award-winning Shakespearean sonnet. If I have to read ONE MORE of their self-indulgent creative writing assignments!!!! Oh shit! It’s ten past, I might miss the bus if I don’t get a move on.
Thursday 7th September 2017
I’ve just realised this will be the last entry in our journal Chloe. I feel as these will be the last words that I write, they should be profound, an entry that could one day be a set text for children taking literature exams, endlessly dissecting what it all meant. The words fail me.
The boy who sold me the rope this afternoon was about the same age we were, no more than seventeen I’d say, ironic really. I did notice how he wasn’t anything like me at that age though. He had clear skin, square jaw, a knowing confidence. In fact, he reminded me of Richard.
I could never understand what you saw in him Chloe, you have no idea the things he said about you in the locker room. I have often wondered if you thought it was him that night, in the darkness of the Pavilion, or did you know it was me? Obviously, the Police thought it was him, but it has often crossed my mind, in those last intimate moments between us, in the darkness, did you sense me? See me? Somehow, if you didn’t know it was me and you thought it was Richard, it was all for nothing. I just wanted to be seen by you,
I knew in my heart, if the note had said to meet anyone other than him, you wouldn’t have left the party. So I had to write it as if from him, I’m sorry I lied to you about that Chloe. Of course it didn’t even cross my mind, that the Police would find that note. Three young futures ended that night. I have never shed a tear for him though, not like I do for you. He’s up for parole soon.
I will make amends to you, so we can be together, like I know, deep down you always wanted. I will be braver today than I was all those years ago. I’ve done the calculations and I won’t make it easy on myself (short rope, broken neck) I don’t deserve that. I want to feel what you felt in the darkness that night, struggle as you did, clawing at your throat. Not long now, you will see me soon.
The next day, late afternoon, Kurtis stood in his now empty flat. It was noticeable to Kurtis, that without his belongings, his once tiny home, felt expansive. The sounds of the street below echoed on the walls. In the centre of the room, a wooden stool, that he would kick to the ground, on the count of three, kicking on three, not after, so not to give himself a chance to chicken out. In front of the stool, hundreds of journals, seventeen years’ worth of writing, his only outlet for the secret that he harboured. He would focus on the piles of books, block the world out, a world that didn’t need him anyway, he reminded himself.
Not entirely convinced that the old beams of his attic flat would hold his bodies’ weight, he gave the rope one last tug. It was time. He focussed ahead, looked upon his life’s writings and dimmed out the High Street below, quietened his mind from the hustle of the excitable children being let out of the school opposite. Tried to silence his ears to the traffic, car horns, screeching of a breaks and for a split second the street below fell silent.
‘HELP,’ howled a female voice, ‘PLEASE GOD SOMEBODY HELP’
‘SHE’S NOT BREATHING.’
Kurtis came somewhat out of his trance, stepped down from the chair, moved towards the window. There was a small body, Kurtis reckoned age five, maybe? First year at Primary, judging by the over-sized uniform bought for her to grow into.
As Kurtis came out into the street, it was chaos. Women screaming, the mother and her friends attacking the driver, the child’s blood smeared on his windscreen. . The locals spilled out of the shops and a morbid crowd was gathering.
Cathy, was on her mobile, ‘Ambulance, Cheadle High Street, please come quick’. Instinctively, Kurtis took off his jumper placed it behind the girls head.
‘Cathy, hold this to her head, try to slow the bleeding,’ he instructed.
His mind sprung into overdrive, how many chest compressions for a child? He didn’t know, an adult is thirty, he remembered, so he’d just halve it and hope for the best. It wasn’t going to make this situation any worse than it already was. One. Two…
‘The Bee Gees Song, Stayin’ Alive. That’s what they say on that advert, that’s the rhythm you gotta to do.’ Cathy interjected unhelpfully. Fourteen. Fifteen.
He reached down to her tiny neck, tilted her head back and transferred his breath into the limp girls lungs.
Saturday 8th September 2017
There’s a piece in the local evening news tonight ‘Aspiring Writer Saves Girl’. Aspiring? I didn’t say anything, it wasn’t worth making a fuss. It was a nice article through. The journalist said I should send him some of my stuff, said he knew a few people, it was nice of him. Popped into the charity shop, just to check Cathy was ok. Had a cuppa with her, she said that they are always looking for volunteers, I think I might give it a go.
Copyright © Sarah Armstrong as ‘Dita Kelly’ 2021