by Martin Locock
He closed his eyes to concentrate on her scent. Above the sweet petrol fumes leaking in from the forecourt there was a cocktail of cocoa butter, perfume, soap, and a hint of fresh sweat. Taken together it was intoxicating, the essence of woman. He opened his eyes, judging her appearance critically. There was time: the queue was making slow progress as each driver paid.
He had picked her out while he refuelled the van. Good looks, smart clothes, independent air – she excited his interest at once. Now he could move from appreciation to action. Expertly, his glance took in the slenderness of her arms. He was still limping a little from his last encounter- he had underestimated that one’s strength and fitness. This one would be safer, though – petite and easily overpowered. He grunted in pleasure. It was time.
His next step was to find out a little more about her – where did she live? was anyone else at home? The ring on her finger implied a husband, but he was probably at work. As she opened her purse he peeked over her shoulder, scanning for an address. Nothing. He’d have to follow her. He didn’t like to do this too much anymore. After the first few times, people were getting wary, and the police becoming desperate. There was even a dog-eared poster above the till here. Lucky that white vans are so common. As she left the shop, he quickly handed over the exact. He saw her car, a black BMW, and memorised it in case he lost her in traffic.
Fortunately, she made a meal of getting ready, fussing with her mirror, so he’d already nudged the van into spluttering life as she moved off. Turning out into traffic took a while, though - morning rush hour was over but the road was still busy. He didn’t mind – he accepted the trade-off of the risk of losing the car in return for a couple of cars buffer keeping him unnoticed and unsuspected. At each junction he checked the side roads in case she’d turned off.
As he expected, they climbed up the hill into a tree-lined estate on the edge of town. Good news for him: no bystanders. Her car slowed and turned in to a drive. He pulled over to wait a few minutes. He liked to exploit the window of distraction when they got home – taking shopping into the house, leaving doors unlocked, open sometimes. He parked, donned the gloves, unsheathed the knife, and paced towards the house in a loping gait.
The car’s tailgate was open, but she wasn’t in sight. He crunched across the gravel to the front door. His cards were on the table now –he was committed. He was ready. He slowly opened the door and stood listening. Cupboard doors banged at the back of the house. He walked down the hallway. The kitchen door was closed. He breathed deep and barged in, the blade held high as a visible threat.
She was standing at the far side of the kitchen table. She looked up at him, without the expected surprise or fear. He stepped forward, aiming to unsettle her by direct action. It was easier if they were frozen into helplessness.
His legs fell from under him as pain tore into his muscles. Only then did he hear the buzz of the taser. He dropped to the floor, shaking. His vision was blurred but he could see a second figure standing over him – he must have been behind the door. Walkie talkies buzzed.
“Charlie tango, target is down, stand down all units.”
He saw his intended victim approach, then look down at him.
Martin Locock works as a project manager at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David in Carmarthen, having moved to Wales twenty years ago while working as a commercial archaeologist. He runs the small press, Carreg Ffylfan Press, and recently published his fourth collection of poetry, The Thought of Fresh Rain. He is a member of Lampeter Writers' Workshop and the Red Heron performance group and reads regularly at spoken word events.