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An Englishman's Home

Some folks like to say, home is where the heart is.

But down in the Gutter, we say, home is where meat hangs . . .

An Englishman's Home by Christopher P. Mooney



“For a man’s house is his castle, and each man’s house is his safest refuge.”
The Institutes of the Laws of England, 1628.

Lester Kalms had yet another long, stressful day at work and was glad to finally get home. He checked the contents of the bedside table’s bottom drawer, switched off the lamp and got into bed; letting the inky darkness wash over him.

He didn’t have to wait long.

After less than a few hours of shallow, dreamless sleep, he heard it: the unmistakable sound of a stranger moving around downstairs.

He waited until the faint remnants of sleep had cleared and his eyes, open wide now, had adjusted to the pitch black. Then, very slowly, he got up.

It was soon out of the drawer and in his right hand, the grooves of the handle familiar against his palm.
       
The next move was to make his way downstairs, being careful to avoid the loose step; the fourth from bottom. That was a mistake he was determined not to make twice.

Having checked that the front door was locked, he proceeded to turn on the light in the hall.

It was when Lester Kalms stepped into the kitchen and switched on the light in there that he saw him. He was of medium height and had sallow skin. His desperate, dark eyes, which hinted at a difficult life, were sunk back in his skull behind high, protruding cheekbones. The dark-coloured clothes covering his thin frame were threadbare and would have offered no real protection against the chill wind swirling around outside.

The man’s only words, when they came, were hesitant. The voice that spoke them was barely above a whisper, “I saw ... on the door … I’m cold. And very hungry. Can I ... ?”
               
Lester Kalms gave no indication that he'd heard. He stood completely still, regarding the person in front of him with a hard indifference. The yellow glare of the bulb was stark against Lester Kalm’s naked body and glistened against the steel in his hand.
               
After several uncomfortable moments during which the stranger shuffled nervously, Lester Kalms, the homeowner with a well-paid white-collar job at a multinational company, took two quick steps forward and, raising his right arm, plunged the screwdriver into the other man’s left eye.
               
The effects were immediate and significant. The man instinctively raised both hands and clamped them over the gaping wound; a gesture which shielded the look of confused horror on his face but did nothing to muffle the agonized cry that escaped from his lips.
               
He dropped firstly to his knees and then face-first onto the floor, where he lay motionless as his life slowly began ebbing away. A pool of thick, red blood spread quickly on the ceramic tiles.
               
Lester Kalms waited until he was sure the man was dead and turned his heels to the corpse, making his way out of the kitchen and toward the front door. He put the key back in the lock, turned it clockwise once and pulled the door open. He removed a piece of paper from the outside of the door; on which was written in large block capitals, IF YOU ARE HUNGRY AND HOMELESS, PLEASE COME IN AND HELP YOURSELF TO SOMETHING TO EAT, and again closed and locked the door from the inside. He made sure to switch off the small light that hung above the door’s exterior. 
             
Lester Kalms, still unclothed, went back into the house. He picked up the corpse and hauled it up over his right shoulder. Straining under the weight, he made his way down to the basement, where he casually dumped that night’s victim on top of the others before returning the house to darkness and getting back under the covers of his still-warm bed.


Christopher P. Mooney was born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland, and currently survives in a small house near London, England. At various times in his life he has been a supermarket cashier, a shelf stacker, a barman, a cinema usher, a carpet-fitter’s labourer and a foreign-language assistant. He is now a professional teacher of French and English and an amateur writer of crime fiction, horror fiction and eclectic poetry. His stories and poems have been accepted for publication in print, online and on Kindle by Crooked Holster, Spelk Fiction, Dead Guns Press, Devolution Z, Revolution John, Out of the Gutter and Yellow Mama.