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Vacant citizen

Don't take advantage. Sometimes this is learned the hard way.

David Thompson was the type of person whose IQ was nowhere near three figures, who came across as someone who was not quite a simpleton, but oafish, who fell for any scam and con that came his way. Ask him the time, and he would stare at his watch for a while whilst he worked it out. Directions were also a problem when he knew where the place was. Yet, to this day, he always managed to be quite wealthy, and kept himself neat and tidy, despite being over-weight at the age of 59. 

How he’d managed to survive to that age was anybody’s guess, but he’d done well for himself, and nobody could argue with that. He had made his wealth from his background in motor insurance, the necessary intelligence for which seemed paradoxical with the knowledge he had outside the sphere of his profession.  He could quote facts and figures. He could save you 40% on your car and breakdown cover. Business was all he was good at, and people knew this. He had never married, never had any children. He was basically married to his work. 

However, one day, 16 years ago, he found himself out of employment, surplus to requirements, and he couldn’t take it, couldn’t handle the sudden change in circumstance after knowing the same thing for so long. He was found lying on his kitchen floor, surrounded by tablets. Word soon spread around, and he was comforted, and soon found another company. He basically got himself back on his feet and became an important member of the community, offering advice and generally becoming a person with whom everybody knew to some degree or another. 

There are usually the regulars who frequent local pubs who seem to know everybody, and David was one, so it was not too difficult for the local petty crook to discover that he had quite a substantial amount of money put away. Prime candidate then, for a scam that could relieve him of all he had, maybe even his life.

    Gavin Richmond had thought it all through. He had roped in an accomplice, and with David being so rich, sharing the profits was not a problem. Gavin was 27, and had seen the inside of prison three times, each time for stealing, but he guessed that if he got away with this, he wouldn’t have to steal again. He had met his accomplice behind bars, a nineteen year-old who had been in some form of custody since he was sixteen for committing one single act of brutality that he will probably be reminded of wherever he goes. A stain on his character for the rest of his life. Gavin’s accomplice had brought to an after school fight, his Father’s shiny new axe, which he had ran home for at dinner-time. 

Obviously his opponent felt this was cheating when it was brought out, but his protests went unheard as he was pushed to the ground and had had his left hand severed halfway up the fore-arm. So began the onset of prison life, and his meeting with Gavin, and their growing reputation as a pair of misfits, who very soon, will end up nowhere else but behind bars, the only place that will take them. 

They knew of David’s suicide bid, or what was, in effect, a cry for help, and they knew his profession, and they knew where he lived. Gavin and Harvey had decided to ask David for advice on opening a bank account. They had found him in the pub, where they asked if they could go to his house the following day to discuss it. David was only too pleased to help them out, and looked forward to meeting them. 

     The following night, at seven, it was only Harvey who turned up at his house.
“Your friend not with you?” asked David, looking past him to see if he was coming.
“He’ll be along in about ten minutes. He had to post something in a house a few roads away” said Harvey. David nodded, understanding.
“Come in, come in,” he said, standing aside to allow Harvey to enter. The house was nothing special. It was a two up, two down affair, sandwiched amongst other identical houses. There was no gate, or path. The only thing in front of the door was a step. It suited David. He didn’t need, or want much. Inside it was sparse, pretty much the same as it was when he moved in 22 years ago. If the previous occupants ever came back, they wouldn’t notice many changes. The wallpaper and carpet were the same, as was the furniture, including the bed, and kitchen appliances, except the fridge. He’d been forced to buy a new one when the other one simply gave up.

     For Gavin and Harvey’s plan to work, they were counting on the generosity and goodwill of David while they waited. The one thing that a host does before the guest even sits down is offer them a drink, and it was exactly what David did, getting him a coke. For a few moments, there were moments of uneasy silence, punctuated by Harvey’s loud slurps of his drink. He exaggeratedly looked at his watch.
“He should be here in a minute,” he said.

David was sat in his favourite armchair, feeling rather put out with Harvey’s friend not here, feeling at a loss for subjects to talk about. He watched as he took another sip, then began coughing, spraying coke over the carpet. He began to cough more violently as though he was choking and grabbed his throat. He fell to the floor, convulsing and retching. David stood up quickly, at a loss as to what to do. The doorbell rang and he raced out, opening the door. Gavin looked surprised.
“Gavin, call an ambulance, your friend’s having a fit” David said quickly. Gavin could hear Harvey coughing and spluttering, and ran inside, followed by David. When they found Harvey, he was no longer coughing. He was still, silent. Gavin pointed at him and looked at David. 
“You’ve poisoned him! You’ve poisoned him! You’re a murderer”. David shook his head.
“No, No, it was…,” Gavin ran to the front door, stopped and pointed at David. 
“Murderer! I’m calling the police. I’m calling the police. Maybe you should kill yourself before they arrive”. He then turned and ran out, not giving David a chance to respond, who walked into the front room where Harvey was still lying unmoving. He put his hands to his face and stared down through his fingers. Gavin’s voice resonated in his mind.
‘Murderer,’ It kept saying.

    Gavin was visibly nervous, stood inside a bus stop as though he was in a cell, waiting for guards to come and take him to the execution chamber. He didn’t know how long to wait, maybe a few more minutes. He’d only been there for two, but he couldn’t handle the anxiety any longer, so left the small shelter and headed straight back to the house. This part of the plan was the most optimistic. They were hoping that because David had attempted suicide once, he would try it again given a hopeless situation. He guessed that David was fretting about the impending screeching of tyres, and police bursting in to cart him away to a prison cell. He would therefore be known as a murderer around the town, and become an outcast. 

The situation Gavin and Harvey had presented him with was one where David had to make the quick decision to end it all, to decide that he would be better off dead. They could then steal anything of value, and be long gone before anybody found his body, and when they did, there would be nobody pointing the finger in their direction.

     The back up plan, was that should David not kill himself, then they would, and make it look like suicide. Perhaps that would have been easier, they had guessed, but they had seen programmes and films where that had happened, but it had been worked out to be a murder. This way he really would kill himself, so they in effect, were not murderers.

   Crossing the threshold, he was immediately hit by the silence. He walked into the front room and saw David sat in his favourite armchair, a glass of water in one hand, and a bottle of pills in the other, tablets scattered around.
Gavin smiled slightly. His plan had worked, he thought. David was leaning to one side. He looked dead. Gavin saw that Harvey was still lying in the same position.
“Oi! Get up, we don’t have much time” he said, but Harvey remained where he was, silent and still. Gavin then noticed that the area around Harvey’s throat was a pool of blood. He stepped across quickly and knelt down to shake him.
“Harvey!,” he said, loudly. A shadow then fell across them. Gavin looked around at David who had stood up and was sending a baseball bat towards his face. The first hit split his skull.
“Think I’m stupid eh? Thought I didn’t know what you were doing?”  
The second strike killed him.

   David sighed loudly and sat back down. If only they hadn’t been so opportunistic. If only they hadn’t tried to take advantage of someone whom they guessed wasn’t the brightest match in the box, then he wouldn’t have to try and haul their bodies into the loft, to join that of his boss many years ago when he had lost his job. It was David who had invited him around, who took out his anger with the same baseball bat on his skull. 

David blamed that incident for his low IQ level. It had also sent him into a spiralling depression, the result of which was his cry for help. He had never been the same since then. He wondered if this incident would change him again. Would he try and kill himself for real? Would he become a serial killer, executing those who had done him wrong? He didn’t know. For now though, he would have to discover if he still had the strength to get them up there, but in the meantime, he would relax and enjoy the silence.

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