Bloody Mess – James Jenkins

Punk Noir Magazine

“Carl what the fuck have you done?” Kelly dropped the shopping bags in the open doorway. The horror before her spread across the kitchen’s travertine floor. Not even the crack of glass from presumably the mayonnaise or wine bottle could distract her. Instead, Kelly watched the gruesome mess seep into the grout lines between the high maintenance tiles. 

“It’s okay Kelly! It’s okay. Let me deal with it,” Carl replied between panicked breaths. “I’ll get some soap and sponges. Won’t stain if I’m quick.”

Kelly was suddenly very aware of the open door and the portal it became to any passing busybodies on the street. It was a close-knit community. You never knew when the neighbourhood watch was doing their rounds. She heaved the plastic shopping bags back up off the floor, the broken glass inside forgotten as she hurried the door closed. 

“You’ll never get it out before they arrive Carl. I told you to leave it alone. What if someone saw you?”

“They didn’t Kel. I promise.” Carl started filling a washing up bowl with hot water and disinfectant. 

“You won’t get rid of the stain with that stuff you fool. That’s what we use for the worktops. Quick, under the sink… yes, that one. See? It’s industrial. Seriously Carl. His bloody parents are coming over in an hour. You did remember that we asked them over didn’t you?”

“Yes Kelly! I obviously didn’t think it would happen like this did I?”

“I told you it was a bad idea Carl. You should have just left… this… well just look at it. It’s a fucking mess Carl.”

“Look Kelly, it’s done now. We’re just going to have to deal with it.”

“How am I meant to sit at the table with them now Carl? I won’t be able to look Emma in the eye all night.”

“So, what do you suggest then? Shall I just drag it back over there and dump it on their property in broad daylight? Don’t play the innocent party here Kel. We both made the decision together. You said it yourself, the boy’s a little arsehole. Spoilt little shit who can’t do wrong in Emma and Mark’s eyes. And don’t get me started about how he treats our poor little Ewan. He got what he deserved.”

Kelly looked back down at the mess on her floor. The builder had told her to be careful with the natural stone – It must be sealed every six months Mrs. Roberts. To stop anything from penetrating the stones natural pattern. How long ago had they last done it? Four, maybe five months. She sucked in air and took control of the situation.

“Give me that sponge. I’ll do it.” Kelly snatched it out of her husband’s hands and immediately got to work scrubbing with fury.

“What about dinner?” Carl asked.

“Never mind that now. Just get that out of here.”

“Where should I put it?”

“I don’t know Carl. Use your fucking head for once. The garage. No! You can’t risk going outside. Put it in the cupboard under the stairs if it fits.”

“Seems a bit morbid doesn’t it? They will be sitting right near it,” Carl began to pick up the different parts that had fallen off in transit. He knew he was too heavy-handed at times. 

“Just get it done man!” Kelly carried on slowly erasing the evidence. “So much blood here too!”

“Yeah, it put up a bit of a fight. Cut my own arm in the process.”

“Well, you better clean that up too. Wear a long sleeve shirt tonight, we don’t want to give them any reason to suspect us… this is cleaning up okay actually. Let’s order in tonight though, just to be on the safe side.”

***

“They’re here Carl. Answer the bloody door,” Kelly shouted from the bedroom. The unmistakable sound of the door swinging open and the generic pleasantries exchanged between Carl and their neighbours. She finished adding the last touches of her makeup and joined them downstairs at the kitchen table. Her eyes threatening to give her away as she studied the floor. It was okay. She’d been thorough. 

“Hi Emma,” she said a little too enthusiastically embracing the woman. “Hello Mark!” she continued allowing her friend’s husband to carry out his little routine of kissing her on each cheek. “Please take a seat, we’ve ordered in Chinese food, hope that’s okay? It is? Oh good. Wine? Beer for you Mark. Carl will get it.”

“Running low by the looks of it,” Carl said studying the interior of the white goods.

“There’s more under the stairs,” Kelly said without thinking. “No! No, Mark. It’s okay, Carl will get them. You’re our guest.” – Phew.

Dinner was served and the conversation was as dry and premeditated as any conversation they’d shared with their neighbours. Once they’d all given an update on their working lives and common interests (of which there was little), talk turned to their children.

“Yes, it’s Ewan’s birthday at the end of the month. What about your Charlie though? Six on Tuesday, isn’t he? Yes, he must be very excited. Oh, you’ve got him one of those bikes. Yes, Ewan has been crazing us about one too,” Kelly went on.

“That’s right Mark,” joined in Carl. “The one with the buttons that makes all the noise. Rare! You’re not kidding. Kelly and I have been trying to track one down for weeks.” 

Carl was so engrossed in conversation that he didn’t see his wife’s eyes looking at the cupboard door. Nor did he see how it had swung open by a few inches. A sharp punt to his shin from under the table brought him back into the moment. He stood up far too quickly, the chair screeching across the well-polished floor. 

“Another beer Mark? Might be a bit warm though.” He headed for the cupboard feeling all sets of eyes burning into his back. Carefully – Carl squeezed his hand through the gap and rummaged for the beer bottles. He quickly pressed the door home and returned to the table.

“What’s that?” he quizzed looking at the arm in question and the blood on his sleeve. “Oh nothing! Just had a fight with a thorn bush the other day in the garden. Ha! You should see the bush, I won.” His babbling earned him another punt from Kelly.

***

Once they had ushered their friends out of the house and locked the door firmly behind them, Kelly collapsed into a chair. 

“That was too close Carl. You and that bloody bush story!”

“I think they bought it though.”

“Why did you have to stick your arm in there though? You’ve got blood, grease, and paint all over yourself from that thing.”

“It’s alright. Come on, let’s get it back out. The quicker we finish this the better. They’ll be no evidence then.”

“Okay, but this time put down some sheets for fucks sake. I’m not scrubbing that floor again.”

Carl went over to the cupboard under the stairs and pulled out the half-painted, half dismantled bike. 

“Do you think they’ll suspect us, Carl?”

“Nah. It’ll look completely different by the time I’ve sprayed it.”

James Jenkins is a Suffolk based writer of gritty realism. He has work published in Bristol Noir, Punch-Riot Mag, Bullshit Lit, A Thin Slice of Anxiety and Punk Noir Magazine. One of his short stories appears in Grinning Skull Press Anthology – Deathlehem. His debut novel Parochial Pigs is available on Amazon and published by Alien Buddha Press.

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