The following is a work of fiction by Michael McCann
The alarm on Luke’s phone buzzed and vibrated on the coffee table, he rubbed the sleep from his eyes and reached for his device. The startling noise disturbed his dog as she too slept by the fire. Luke cursed at the bloody dog and she settled. He managed to turn the alarm off but as he was putting it down again he dropped it and fell on the wooden floor, which got the dog yapping again. “Hush, Patch.” The TV was still on from last night and an early showing of Tipping Point was finishing, the jackpot counter was on the edge.
“Would you like to take the trade for three extra counters to try and get the jackpot prize or you can walk away with £2,750?” the game show host said.
Luke lay with his finger hovering over the Standby button. “Take the trade. Take the trade. Take the fucking trade.”
“Sorry, Ben, £2,750 is a lot of money so I’m going to walk aw__.”
Luke switched the TV off in disgust and tossed the remote aside. “Coward,” he snapped, which got the dog going again.
“Shut up, Patch,” he sighed. “Patch, sit . . . SIT!” He pinched the bridge of his nose and closed his eyes to see if that would help with the noise.
Luke propped himself up on one elbow. “There’ll be no treat if you don’t SHUT UP. I’ve got a piercing headache so pleeease be quiet.”
This was a lie of course as Luke spoilt the little Jack Russell who got a slice of ham whenever she went outside to pee or shit. Yes, treats are good for training your dog when they’re puppies but not when they are old arthritic and blind in one eye. The old mutt tilted her head, pricked her ears at her owner’s stern voice as if to say: Speak up, dear. The dog did as he requested as if she understood exactly what Luke was saying. Patch sat starring at Luke with a rapid wagging tail.
“Okay,” he smiled, “I’m getting up.” He peeled the blanket off him, threw his legs over the side and pushed himself to a seating position. He looked at the bottle of Jameson, shook his head and winced at the throbbing pain. He held his head in his hands supported by the elbows that were resting on his thighs. As he stared between his legs while he rubbed his temples with index and middle fingers he saw a large tumbler glass on its side. The whiskey had dried up leaving behind a sticky residue.
“How much did I drink last night?” he quizzed himself as he picked it up. But no one answered him apart from himself. “Too much, Luke.”
Luke then stood and placed a hand on the small of his back as he stretched and yawned like a cave. He drew the curtains to reveal a dull gloomy day and gathered the blanked up in a pile and dumped it at the back of the sofa and made his way to the guest bathroom in his boxers and t-shirt that was down the hall.
After he had relived himself, he stared at himself in the mirror while he held on to the sink. His eyes were bloodshot and there were dark circles around his eyes. Despite Luke’s age, which was mid-forties his weather beaten face with its deep wrinkles mainly around the eyes and thinning hair said otherwise. He was by no means an attractive man as being a homicide detective, this was the face that had seen far too many horrors but he did have a certain appeal about him. He cupped his jaw and rubbed his stubble while his other hand reached for the razor. He twirled it between thumb and forefinger as he debated with himself about whether or not to shave. “It’ll do,” he muttered to his reflection.
Luke walked into the shower and adjusted the temperature to suit. Supporting himself against the tiles, he assumed the search position while he allowed the water to wash away his sins.
Feeling refreshed he was about to go out to the kitchen when he caught sight of the state he had left the sitting room in. Luke stood in the hallway wearing just a pair of pyjama bottoms deciding if he should clean up his mess first or have breakfast. He shot a glance up at the ceiling and listened to see if there was any sound of movement coming from the master bedroom. No sound, so he chose his stomach over his partner but before he went to the kitchen he fetched his phone from the coffee table.
Luke placed the phone on the counter top and opened the back door for the dog. Her black nose twitched at the chilly air but she was reluctant to leave the warmth of the house. Goosebumps bespeckled Luke’s arm and an icy shiver raced up his spine. “OUT,” he ordered and pointed down the yard. Patch, with her tail between her legs made her way out and Luke shut the door after her.
As Luke was preparing his breakfast, two Weetabix, a banana chopped up with a drizzle of honey, his phone rang. With a swipe of his thumb he answered the call.
“He has struck again!”
“Christ . . .” the colour drained from Luke’s face and his heart started to race. “Right, give me your location. Hang on a sec, lemme get a piece of paper.”
Luke held the phone with his shoulder and cheek while he scribbled down the address with a trembling hand. After he wrote the whereabouts as to where he was going, he wrote another:
Sandra, I’m sorry about last night.
Got an urgent call.
Will talk when I get home.
I could be late.
He tore it off the notebook and used a fridge magnet to stick it to the refrigerator door.
The story concludes next week