It had been almost an hour since the Nailgun’s last staggering customer smeared himself through the exit, leaving a single perry soaked plimsoll behind him. It was wet, cloudy Tuesday and usually by 12:30 the place would be in darkness; the atmosphere thick with the smell of cheap detergent and all surfaces charged with the sheen of barely-diluted bleach.
However, tonight was different.
The pub had closed as normal; the clientele wandering into the cold, gauzy December drizzle. The staff had habitually cleaned, cashed up and sneaked a quick drink, albeit with an awkward gait, attempting to avoid the gaze of two figures who they would be leaving alone together in the gloom. At the request of the pair, the lights were to be switched off and doors barred before the staff finally slipped away, muttering beneath clouded breath,
They sat in a gloomy corner, lit by only the sickly burn of a tallow candle whilst the rest of the establishment greedily hugged the darkness. Both figures were dressed exclusively in black, both looking slightly emaciated.
“Before we start, do you mind if I have a sandwich?” purred the taller of the two. His voice was deep, but lacked any sort of substance behind it, creamily expressing the slightly dulled awareness of its owner. The other figure shuffled uncomfortably, if one such as he, lacking in any sort of crease can shuffle.
“NO. CONSUMING ANYTHING BUT THE VAPOURS OF THIS CANDLE WILL INHIBIT THIS TASK”.
The direct and distinct sharpness of the reply caused the first figure to sink into himself with a sigh. He had rather been looking forward to his cheese and pickle sandwich, packed with care along with other midnight treats in a Count Duckula lunchbox.
“But X, I can’t concentrate after midnight unless I eat, my mind wanders into unfathomable darkness, which I doubt is conducive to raising the lonely ones from their eternal slumber,..”
X thought in heavy block caps, solid logic and machined reason efficiently guiding him to think of a useful purpose for his associates overwhelming desire to eat.
“OKAY. BUT I INSIST THAT YOU EAT IN THE CELLAR AND DO SO WITH VERY LITTLE SOUND”. Replied X, carrying the slightest inflection of a German accent to make his point. Richmond nodded slowly and slide behind the bar, lighting a taper before pushing the fresh flame into the gloom of the cellar entrance.
“Back in a minute”.
X watched Richmond disappear downwards, his descent on the opposite side of the bar looking remarkably like a well-performed mime. The flickering light danced over the bottles and briefly cast sheets of colour before the room was plunged breathlessly into flat blackness.
“I DO HOPE THAT MY GUEST DOES NOT SCARE HIM”. Thought X. Indeed, the guest had been very hard to persuade into attending this evening. Despite this, X knew that denial of service, numerous letters of decline and a 50 yard exclusion zone could only be considered as mild social foreplay in this situation. Indeed, if his guest were to prove tiresomely uncooperative, he could always rely on Gallop to offer a coaxing hoof. The predictable splutter of shock reverberated up the cellar stairs, followed by Richmond.
“There’s something down there, a man I think, all tied up and moaning incomprehensibly” stammered Richmond. “Have you something to do with this?”
Richmond had long harboured suspicions when it came to X’s apparent lack of morals, but this was a surprise even to him.
X’s face compressed into a stretched smile. “PERHAPS” he replied savouring the warm butterfly feeling he was experiencing. “HE SHALL BE OUR FACILITOR THIS EVENING. SHALL WE AQUAINT OURSELVES?”
Standing suddenly with morbid rigidity, X crossed the room like a razor, the candle trailing its unhealthy glow, barely staying alight. Darting past Richmond with a gleeful hiss, X’s shadow-puppet form filled the brick-lined stairwell as he leapt cellarwards. Richmond felt uncomfortable, the last time he had seen X this excited was when he maintained a weight of 4st 8lbs for a month without developing lanugo.
Following hesitantly, Richmond slipped downward, his empty stomach turning with anxious, un-oiled cogs. When his eyes adjusted to the gloom, he saw X holding the candle high over the head of the bound and seated figure. Slowly, X began to untie the thick rope-gag from the captive.
“You’ve crossed the line now you fucking weirdo, I’m going to get you done!” exclaimed the figure in a thick Scouse drawl, struggling against the ropes binding him the chair.
“NOW NOW, MR ACORAH, THIS IS THE LAST TIME I PROMISE. YOU REALLY SHOULDN’T TEASE ME SO.” Crooned X, oblivious to the outrage Mr Acorah was currently going through.
“Is that Derek Acorah?” asked Richmond, creeping behind X to get a better look “Can I get your autograph after X has finished with you?”
Derek spluttered, red faced and sweating with anger. “If you brick this lunatic I’ll buy you fish and fucking chips. This is fucking ridiculous – LET ME GO”.
X stood unmoved, still smiling his stretched grin. “CALM DOWN MR ACORAH. ONE MORE SESSION IS ALL I REQUIRE. EITHER THAT OR YOU KNOW I’LL RELEASE THE TAPES”.
The atmosphere in the room changed instantly. With a droop of the shoulders, Derek’s demeanor became resignedly compliant. X had obviously touched a powerful nerve. Delighting in his power, X slid behind the chair and with accentuated flair, began to untie Derek. Watching this awkward performance unravel, Richmond couldn’t help but notice the obvious intricacy of the knots. Allowing his curiousity to get the better of him, Richmond quietly approached X from behind and whispered.
“Erm, X, where did you learn to tie ropes like that?”
X’s arms continued to waltz, slowly winding the long white cords around his thin fore arms.
“HITLER YOUTH ANNUAL 1938” X replied curtly, releasing the defeated Derck with a flourish. Placing the rope to the side, X crept in front of Derek and placed his moon-white hands on his knees.
“NOW, WHEN YOU FIRST ENTERED THIS BUILDING WAS THERE ANY PLACE YOU FELT DRAWN TOWARD”.
Heaving a sigh, Derek shrugged his shoulders and shook his head.
“I can’t actually remember anything apart from the smell of chloroform. Get out of my way, I need a shit before we start” he sneered, pushing the slight form of X out of the way and pacing up the stairs. His footsteps echoed above them as Derek murmured his frustrations audibly.
“Where is the fucking shitter??!” he exclaimed, his arrival into the toilets marked by a sudden slam of the cubicle door.
“FOLLOW ME AND TAKE NOTES” whispered X, climbing the stairs, his sparse silhouette not unlike that of Count Orlock. Richmond shadowed X up the stairs and around the bar, heading towards the toilets. The harsh smell of disinfectant greeted them alongside the groaning heaves of Mr Acorah as he relived himself beyond the partition.
“CALL HIM NOW DEREK” said X, nonchalantly, as if standing in a candlelit toilet and requesting psychic readings was an everyday occurrence. Richmond was starting to feel decidedly awkward and fumbled for his notebook.
“Cat’t ir wait you fucking cunt, I’ve not wiped my arse yet”.
“NO. CALL HIM NOW” snapped X.
Richmond prepared himself for the unknown, feeling apprehensive and wishing he’d stayed at home with his taped copy of Grand Designs.
“Sam,…are you there Sam? Oh, sorry Sam, this nutjob has me locked in some pub somewhere,… yes,. Him,..No, he’s threatened me with the pictures again,…oh sod off Sam, it’s not my fault they got out,……this is not the time or the place,…..”
Derek continued to talk to himself for about another minute, X pacing the length of the toilet whilst he did so.
“HURRY IT UP MR ACORAH, I HAVEN’T ALL EVENING”
There was a primal grunt of frustration in the toilet. Derek was ready to never have to deal with this fool again and the sooner he left this place the better.
“Okay, hang on a second”
Nodding in the direction of Richmond as a queue to start note-talking, X pressed his ear to the door as Derek prepared to channel for him.
“Sam,..Sam,.is Bertolt there?”
X rang his hands anxiously, beaming as Derek’s voice began to stammer and change.
“Das leichter, das leichter, leichter leich, leich, leichter”
“How do you spell that?” whispered Richmond before being shushed by X’s flailing arm.
“HERR BRECHT, TIME IS BRIEF, WHAT IS THE NEXT PART OF THE PLAN?” hissed X, his thin face pressed with concentration.
“Haha! Frau X! Leichter! Motes my kinder, motes!”
There was a series of bangs as Derek’s possessed body threw itself around the cubicle. Richmond winced and X back away looking slightly perturbed. With a gush of water, the taps in the bathroom exploded with water.
“THIS DOESN’T USUALLY HAPPEN”
The sound of Derek’s thrashing became louder and increasingly sustained until with a splash, it suddenly ceased, the taps screwing themselves shut instantly. By this time, Richmond was banging on the Nailgun’s door and shrieking.
“BRECHT, LEAVE US NOW”
“Leichter, leichter, leichter, leichter, leichter, leichter”.
There was an uncomfortable thudding sound inside the cubicle. Cautiously approaching, X stood before the door. Damp, sliding noises sounded from the other side, and X could hear the sound of something wet hit the floor.
The catch to the toilet clicked and the door creaked inward. Sitting on down, covered in his own waste, Derek was still in a state in-between the world of the living and the dead, his gaze somewhere in the middle distance. On all sides of the cubicle were the words “leichter” written in his own shit.
“OH MR ACORAH” smiled X. “YOU DO GET YOURSELF INTO SOME AWKWARD SITUATIONS” and with that, he took out a small camera and watched the small particles of dust play around the room with a hungry eyes. Several polaroid flashes illuminated the scene before he span triumphantly, humming 'Deutschland, Deutschland Uber Alles'. He would eat well tonight.