I've found a new blog and the writer has kindly agreed to be a guest blogger sometime soon. Her site is great and as soon as I've thought up some questions that don't make sound like some kind of dweeb I'll be putting them to her.
You'll notice that I've changed the settings slightly on my blog. That's not to say that it's suddenly going to be filled with obscenities but my three old men find it difficult to converse without the odd swearword or two. I apologise to anyone if it offends them but they're quire mild really - honest.
It had taken a great deal of time and effort to transform several hundred respectable old people into silent assassins.
Perhaps not all of them were quite as bad as the still-unknown ringleaders. In fact some probably were just decent pensioners enjoying the twilight of their long lives. Wafting carefully through gentle and genteel days of polite conviviality whilst carefully avoiding any acts of reckless abandon which might result in broken hips or any of the other myriad ailments that so afflict the elderly.
Thus it logically followed that at least a few had no direct involvement. But in this as all such establishments, news travelled fast. Yet not so much as a single person had been brave enough to admit individual guilt or even pointed a, presumably wrinkled, finger at the offending party or parties. So they could all be considered jointly culpable. They had it coming.
A bored detective had listlessly attempted and failed to discover the perpetrator(s). He’d even made sympathetic noises whilst expending commendable effort in his reluctance to traumatise his grandmother who (it later transpired) lived there, lest the trauma necessitate her relocation back to the family home. In fact the entire investigation had been performed and classified as an accident within two working days. However none of this mattered; the doddery miscreants could return to their cosseted life once more since its brief disruption had been well worth the effort expended.
Retaliation had been good; long in the making and thoroughly enjoyed, but now sadly over. It would take a long time to prepare something as spectacularly funny as smuggling in a gay male stripper. The expressions of utter revulsion on their self-righteous faces, not to mention that of the stripper’s had easily compensated for his exorbitant fee. And he would probably walk again – eventually.
They would just have to find something else to break up the incredible monotony.
The essential problem was that life was good – too good. Year after monotonous year rambled uncomplainingly by without the slightest peril timidly knocking at their triple-locked doors.
There was always plenty to eat. It was never cold. No rain could penetrate their heavily cocooned environment and even the mildly diverting prospect of a wild-eyed criminal breaking in just to enliven the place was unlikely in the extreme given a security system that would make Fort Knox seem like an eat-all-you-can buffet in comparison. Thus it was beyond boring, and in a continual attempt to relieve this never ending tedium, extreme measures just had to be taken – it was just a matter of principle.
Every aspect of this mind-blowing safety was taken entirely for granted by the aforementioned group of smugly impervious people clustered in cosy, self-absorbed cliques; some taking refined breakfasts or indulging in what the more cosmopolitan among them referred to as brunch. Or if not to eat then simply to talk of trivial pleasantries, of past glories; some half remembered, some entirely fabricated. In short: enjoying the autumn glow of their years. Any uncertainties, aspirations or desires once deemed urgent in previous lives, now relegated to distant memories; the embers being considerably easier to bear than the fire.
To facilitate this agonisingly pleasant state of affairs an artificially subdued sun dappled the carefully constructed ground floor dining room, designed solely to cater for the ‘guests’ and all their attendant ailments. Vigilantly ionised air wafted over greying, and in most cases balding heads with any residual aroma from the kitchens efficiently fellated to extinction by the very latest in extractor technology. Thirty feet above those heads a discreetly shadowed ceiling, tinted a gentle pastel green, mimicked a shady forest glade from which wafted the gentlest of pine scented zephyrs as tasteful music crooned tenderly into hundreds of delicately balanced hearing aids. Accordingly it was here that all congregated for vigilantly planned, nutritionally certified and unidentifiably spice-free meals.
However, this well regimented paradise was not to everybody’s taste, and thus another slightly less refined daily custom was also well under way. Tediously raised voices audible to even the most hard of hearing, emanated on this, as every other day from a peculiarly deserted section of the dining room. The disturbance, as usual, consisted of a noisy argument between three old men slouching together at a debris covered table, as to what they had just eaten. Years of practise had lent some of the proposals creative if not disgusting implausibility:
‘Corned beef fried in the jet wash of a fighter running on dog piss.’ Inventive as always but not quite revolting enough to garner the required result.
‘It was an old tennis sock stuffed up someone’s ass for two weeks then baked using dead rats for seasoning.’ A collective groan of revulsion from those unable to distance themselves entirely indicated a successful result.
The Old Geezers were up and about. Their names, even if anyone from the other ends of the restaurant knew them, were never used. Any or all of them were just part of the whole. The unofficial title alone was easily enough for the management to identify the origin and cause of copious complaints; and in the latest hilarious (for the three at least) but as yet unsolved case, an abortive attempt to slaughter them all as they slept.
Quite who had tried to incinerate them would now be forever unknown which was probably fortunate for the person or persons in question, since the loudest member of the group, Charles (Chet) Haughey, no respecter of age, or anything else for that matter, routinely promised, ever with an element of hope, of just how he would crush anyone who openly said a word against them. Except one that is; but more of her shortly.
Chet was an unashamed boor and a bully. A towering, white haired figure with the sagging body of an ex-prize-fighter and the reddened, disfigured nose of one who had indulged heavily in his craft - and a lifelong love affair with bourbon. In this, as in every other place he had ever lived, he was uniformly detested by everyone; a situation that, perversely, filled him with pride and which he reciprocated with an equal measure of passion.
Amon Macafferty was a short wizened man of indeterminate racial origin despite his name which was almost certainly not that which had been written on his long since lost birth certificate. This morning, as always, he sat with the other two guzzling orange juice before their next foray into the disgusting. A particularly nasty case of cranial eczema obscured most of his heavily wrinkled face. This condition which was not his fault, accompanied by a swathe of revolting personal habits which were, had been the cause of his banishment from several other government institutions and a subsequently warm welcome from Chet at this, his final chance before being thrown out onto the street. These aforementioned personal idiosyncrasies had always been a source of great amusement to Chet, who, still considering himself as disgusting as any person could be after a lifetime spent in the military, grudgingly admitted Amon the better man when it came to grossing out just about every person who had the misfortune to encounter him.
Abraham Hankstetter was perhaps the oddest of the three, if only for his apparent normality. Why he had chosen the other two for companionship was probably the biggest mystery to anyone concerned enough to ponder the question; which, naturally were few. Needless to say his association with the others precluded any invitations into the rarefied company of the other residents.
Unlike Chet, Abe did not appear to be the product of decades spent in a gymnasium or of countless illegal fistfights. In fact he’d never been in a fight or entered a gym in his long life. And unlike his friends he had not developed the unconscious habit of hiding his face at the appearance of anyone he didn’t know lest he be an officer of the law bent on his arrest. Slim to the point of emaciation, it seemed that a gentle gust of wind might topple him. Only a careful look into his eyes would reveal a certain demeanour, a firm determination, and an intelligence shared by neither of his strange friends or indeed few of the many residents in the institution that housed them.
Many decades spent as a computer programmer for a company indirectly connected to America’s space programme, usually in darkened rooms poring over computer code and dim computer screens had left Abe permanently stooped. Jet black hair awash with brilliantine, eyes peering myopically, forever squinting and rather alarmed by the daylight he had spent most of his life trying to avoid. As usual he kept out of the mealtime autopsy.
The three, along with several hundred fellow guests, lived their remaining years in the Sunny Glade Retirement Home of New Los Angeles. Few of these people appeared to have any families or at least any inclined to visit, and so spent their outstanding time together peacefully enjoying that which they had toiled so long to earn.
Today, like every other before it, offered not the slightest chance of diversionary amusement. Thus a very bored Chet was toying with the idea of telling the others that it was his birthday, his seventy-forth, although considering the impressive headache he was currently enduring, any backslapping or ribald remarks which would naturally accompany the news would result in him being forced to hurt someone. At any other time the prospect would have invigorated him, but this morning he was very tired and just a little delicate. So the news and the violence could probably be saved for another more convenient, time. And besides, birthdays were hardly an occasion for celebration these days. Between them the three had existed on this plain for almost three hundred years - hardly anything to get excited about any more.
What might have excited, or dismayed him was that a single act of careless greed the previous evening had, or shortly would result in the destruction of the entire world and simultaneous creation of an entirely new one mired in the agonies of prehistoric savagery.