tagNon-EroticThe Devil's Dog

The Devil's Dog

bygeronimo_appleby©

Here's my Halloween story. It's quite brief and non-erotic. If you're expecting a jizz-fest from me, you'll be let-down. There's no sex in this one.

Still, I hope you enjoy the tale enough to vote. I do have a concern that it won't hit the 25 votes needed to be eligible in the Halloween contest, but Non-Erotic is where it belongs.

Thank you for reading.

GA -- Aldershot, England -- 4th of October 2014.


1829: Chester, England

They was going to hang us in two days. I can hear them banging away on the scaffold outside, getting the gallows ready for me and Woodhouse to take the long drop.

There's always noise in here. It never stops. Some wazzock is always shouting, all time of day and night some bugger or other is raising merry hell. There's noise enough to shred a body's nerves, but that godawful bashing and hammering is the worst.

Some of them, them with money and who know the right folk have a right whale of a time in here. There's ale to be bought and drunk, and they even get tarts in if the turnkey gets his coin.

But not in here, not where they've got me and Woodhouse fastened. In here, where they keep the condemned, it's a right miserable sod. It's always close on dark, gloomy as an arsehole it is, a slit for a window up high is all there is to let a tiny smile of daytime in. At night we sometimes have a stub of candle that makes the shadows dance and gives me the heebie-jeebies. But I suppose it's better'n being in the dark. When it's dark a mind can work on what's coming.

There's a constant smell of piss and sweat and fear in the cell, and that day I'm laid on a pile of stinking straw when I hear the jingle-jangle of the jailer's keys. Woodhouse is sat on his arse on the stone floor, elbows on his knees with his forehead in his hands. Woodhouse used to be a great lump of a man, but now he's all shrunk up, skin hanging off him, jowls dangling and shivering like a cockerel's wattle when he moves his head, which is what he does when the sound of the turnkey's approach reaches him.

He looks up quick, a gleam in his eye. Woodhouse likes to sport with them. He doesn't care about them taking offence.

"What are they gonna do, lad?" he said when I asked. "Hang me for it?"

He seemed to think that was hilarious, busting out laughing at the joke while I near shat myself at the reminder of what was coming our way in less than a week, as it was back when I'd asked.

Not that I could forget, but sometimes the fear slips down into my guts and lays there all heavy instead of being panic right up in my throat, like something crazy clawing at me, desperate to get out.

I didn't know how Woodhouse could joke about it, but he's a cove that raped his own daughter so I suppose we don't think the same way.

The key rattles in the slot, turning with heavy reluctance, as though suspicious that us what are condemned might make a run for it.

"Visitor," the turnkey says, with his face on Woodhouse.

"Has George sent a pardon, then?" Woodhouse asks, all cocky.

The jailer sneers. "Not likely," he says, laughing in a way that suggests he's glad to be able to deny Woodhouse. "The king ain't bothered about scurrion like you, you shithouse bastard. But you've got a visitor, a right dandy, a gentleman." With a jerk of his head he indicates Woodhouse should get off his backside. "So mind your manners, you scrote."

There's a pause while Woodhouse glares at the man. It looks to me that Woodhouse would reach in and rip the jailer's liver out if he could.

There's pure evil in that bugger's stare, and I shiver, but then he heaves himself to his feet and says, "Nothing better to do, eh, lad. It ain't like I'm busy.

He gives me a grin and then I'm alone in that cell.

It's just me and my thoughts and the fear while outside they're still bashing shite out of the poles and planks that'll see me stood there with that rope around me neck.

***

Not long after, Woodhouse is back.

"Bloody fool," he spits, and I'm not sure who he's talking about. "Mad," he adds, speaking to me while the jailer's bulk fills the doorway behind him.

"You," the turnkey says to me. "He wants to see you now."

I throw a look at Woodhouse.

"What...?" I blurt.

Woodhouse grimaces and shakes his head. "Go and hear it," he tells me. "But don't believe a word. It's a trick, lad. It's a joke. There's not a hope they'll let 'un out."

"Come on," the turnkey insists, slapping the cudgel he's carrying into the palm of his hand. "The gent hasn't got all day to wait on a dog-turd scutter like you."

I take the hint and scramble to my feet.

Two days later I'm in the crowd outside those desperate walls.

I see Woodhouse brought up to the scaffold.

I watch him take the drop, with him kicking and bucking as the life is choked out of him. It's a right performance, his body thrashing about with a godawful grimace twisting his fizzog.

It's September 29th. In a month's time, or just after, I'll be honouring the debt to my benefactor. It's a strange job he's offered me, not that I know too much about it.

And I'm so bloody grateful I'm not kicking at the end of the rope, like Woodhouse, that I don't acknowledge the niggling doubt inside me.

Not for years and years at least.

***

Present Day:

He finds me in the Post and Telegraph pub.

"Late this year," I say, "thought you might not be coming."

He makes no comment, just eases into the booth and slides along the bench seat where he settles into the corner.

He looks at me, those disconcerting pale-blue eyes fixed on my face. I return the stare for a few seconds, a ripple of fear stirring my soul, the remnants of it anyway. Then I look away; I can never look at him for long.

It's October 31st, Halloween, four-thirty in the afternoon. The Wetherspoon's pub on North Street, Brighton is gearing up for the inevitable. In a couple of hours the place will be packed to the mezzanine with ghosts and goblins, monsters and witches. Meanwhile I'm sitting there with a pint of Devil's Backbone, which is appropriate I suppose.

I had nowhere else to go, no destination in mind. I'd been drawn to the Sussex coast months before, and the lure to that particular pub had been irresistible since the morning.

It was the same as it always was.

I'd ordered a pint and found the booth empty. By the time Sid found me the beer was almost gone. Serendipity as far as his timing was concerned. Not that he's a drinker -- I've never seen him drink anything, nor have I seen him eat for that matter -- but it turns out that the near-empty glass suits Sid's purposes, his timing.

Which is as it should be - nothing seems to be coincidental when Sid's about.

This year it's a rush. It's getting on in the day and I did wonder if he wasn't going to show.

In times gone by Sid has been early by a day, maybe even two, before the 31st. When that happens I have a little time to prepare, which doesn't really make much difference because from mid-October onwards I'm organizing myself for it.

Whenever Sid arrives, I'm ready. I have to be.

Sid's face turns towards the stairs, the vast cavern of the pub on the level below beginning to fill, not a seat left on the mezzanine floor we're on. Our booth, of course, is perfectly positioned to watch the traffic up and down the stairs, and Sid's movement is an indication for me to pay attention. His interest is my cue.

I gulp when I see her: she's gorgeous, absolutely stunning, her straight blonde hair in a ponytail, the cream-coloured, long-sleeved sweater caressing her generous frontage sending a frisson of desire through me.

She looks so clean and healthy, so full of life and vitality, the crocheted sweater and flowing floor-length skirt hinting at a ripe figure beneath.

"Jesus," I mutter in involuntary response.

Sid, as ever, says nothing.

The blonde girl, and I'd put her on the cusp of twenty, has moved past us. She's on her way to the toilets, oblivious to our existence.

I ask the unnecessary question: "Her?"

Sid looks at me, expression benign while anxiety squeezes my guts, part to do with Sid, part to do with what lies ahead for that girl.

"Fucking hell, Sid," I breathe. "She's lovely." Then, in a pang of some emotion I thought had long since died inside me, I added, "Does it have to be her, Sid? Can't you choose another one?"

I get nothing back, just those eyes on mine.

Suddenly, for the first time since I've been involved in this business, I experience genuine and heartfelt regret. I consider getting up and leaving, just walking out and leaving Sid to flounder. He has many talents but couldn't operate without me. I'm the go-between.

Of course it's just a fleeting impulse. I'm too much of a coward to act. I dread to think of the personal consequences of doing such a thing.

So, I have a minute or two to get myself together. She'll be back soon.

I throw a nervous glance at Sid, whose implacable stare never alters; he's showing the same face he always does. I wonder if he sensed my intent, however momentary it was.

Gulping down the fear, I pull the wallet from the pocket in my jacket and take out a twenty. I'm never short of cash. I have a way of getting my hands on whatever I need.

Sid's eyes flick to a point over my shoulder, his look tells me she's on the way back.

"Excuse me, miss," I say, holding up the money. "I wonder if you could do me a favour?"

***

She's back with the drinks. I don't know how Sid does it, but he somehow knows which ones to go for. To look at, she's an angel, purity personified. The whites of her eyes are so clear, no sign of any vice at all. To see her sipping a pint of lager is like hearing a nun curse, to think of her involved with anything as sordid as sex an abomination.

"Thanks," I say when she hands me my beer. "I can never get served when it's busy. Negative bar presence, I call it." I give her a smile and add, "But a pretty girl like you never has a problem. Keep the change for yourself. Buy another drink later."

I'm acting it out without a sign on my face to indicate that, for her, there's not likely to be a 'later'. I don't know what Sid does with them, but I know it can't be pleasant.

In response to my generosity she laughs and shows perfect white teeth. She's in the booth next to me and I see her eyeing Sid, the vulnerable throat exposed, life pulsing in that big vein.

There's another deep pang of regret at what I'm party to. It's an odd feeling, that twinge of conscience. It makes me uncomfortable. I don't like it one little bit.

"Don't you want a drink?" she asks Sid.

"He's working," I say, interjecting quickly.

She looks at Sid and then swivels to regard me.

God, she really is divine.

"Working?" she asks, her accent foreign to my ears.

"He looks after me," I tell her, wondering at her accent. In an effort to change the subject and to satisfy my curiosity, I ask, "Where are you from? What's your name?"

"The Czech Republic," the girl informs me crisply. "And I'm Lucie." She takes a dainty sip of lager, her eyes shifting to regard Sid. "Does he ever speak?"

I shrug and pull a face. "I've never heard him say a word," I reply, truthfully.

Lucie stares at Sid for a few seconds more. Then she shrugs and focuses on me, asking, "What is he, your bodyguard or something?"

She's delivered it as a joke but I nod and say, "Yes ... Among other things."

She's intrigued by that and her eyes go from me to Sid and back again.

Of course she asks the obvious: "Why do you need a bodyguard?"

I'm flowing, in the moment, the scene unrolling as though it's scripted.

"Because I'm worth a lot of money," I reply.

I see her eyes go wide, thin, perfectly sculpted eyebrows arching.

I could laugh when she asks, "A lot of money? What do you do?"

Then I'm serious when the fingers of apprehension squeeze me again. My sphincter loosens. This is the crunch moment. If she's going to balk, the next few seconds will tell.

Shrugging, unconcerned, as though it's the most usual occupation in the world, I say, "I make films ... Erotic films."

Not a flicker from Sid. He's just sitting there, watching; a threat in a smart suit, not a hair out of place.

Silence from Lucie. She stares at me, her smooth brow furrowing. It feels like she could just get up and leave; and I'm not sure at all that Sid has chosen well this time.

My insides turn to water as the silence lengthens. We're in this little bubble, the three of us. That's what my universe has become. There's general hubbub around us -- laughter, conversation, a crowd having a good time, but in that booth there's nothing but me waiting with baited breath, fully aware that all the good years might be over.

The girl looks at me, her expression unreadable. She picks up her glass, green eyes never leaving my face. She sips and deliberately places the pint glass down onto the table, smearing a puddle of condensation sweat with the base, her attention suddenly focussed upon the pattern she's drawn.

"You are joking, right?" she asks, a hint of a smirk twitching the corner of her mouth.

It's early days, it could still go wrong, but I get a surge of relief when I see that grin.

"No," I reply, careful to maintain a serious façade despite the break in tension that was coiling inside me like an overwound spring. "I'm not joking, Lucie."

She gazes at me for a few moments more and then asks, "Porno films?"

"If you want to call it that," I say.

It doesn't matter to me. It's all a lie after all. I'm only interested in the result.

Lucie laughs and rolls her eyes. "No way," she says, eyeing me in a way that tells me she wants to believe me but isn't entirely convinced.

"It's true," I tell her, nodding.

It comes to me in a moment of inspiration and I gesture towards Sid.

"You think he's good-looking?" I ask.

I know the answer. I've heard them say it in the past. Sid has something about him that draws people. It's a dangerous magnetism, and aura of menace that some people, particularly women, can't resist. It always baffles me since he's silent and uncommunicative, in fact he never utters a sound, but in all the years I've known him he's always been considered gorgeous by the ladies.

Lucie, in an attempt at indifference, shrugs. "He's cute, yes," she concedes.

I chuckle, relaxing more with each passing second now I get the sense she's more than halfway hooked.

"Sid's very ... talented," I say, eyebrows going up to emphasise my meaning.

"Sid?" she says. "He's in your films?"

I nod. "He is, Lucie."

And then I put it to her. I make the suggestion: "And I think you might do very well if you worked with him ... With us," I add.

One look at her face tells me Sid has indeed chosen well.

***

Sid has gone for the car. He'll steal it, something to suit the persona I've presented to Lucie, something fitting. There's no time set for us to leave the pub. When the moment's right, I'll know.

In the meantime, Lucie and I talk. She tells me things about being a student, her home, her family, her hopes and aspirations and, again, there it is, that tickle of conscience.

Then, abruptly, I'm ashamed about what I do. It suddenly strikes me that this is the human face of what I broker and I'm saddened.

I wonder what it is that Sid does with them. I don't think he kills them. I've never seen anything in the papers, or more latterly, on the internet, but there are worse things on this Earth than death.

The shame slides into something very akin to grief. I think about all the ones who have gone before, from first to last, all while I keep up appearances in front of the girl of the hour.

As before, I struggle to think of a way to save Lucie. It crosses my mind to simply tell her to go, to get away, to run as far and as fast as she can.

I open my mouth to say something, not sure about what's going to come out, but my nerve fails me again.

It turns out I'm too selfish to warn her.

However, at that moment, I feel it's time to go. Whatever dark magic works between me and Sid does its thing and I get the sense we should be leaving.

I invite Lucie to join me, and by then she's only too keen. Then, as we're moving through the gathering on the floor below the mezzanine, a black-haired girl grabs Lucie's arm.

"This is my friend Poppy," Lucie says to me, her mouth close to my ear to get herself heard.

It's a surprise, and not at all welcome. I realise the girl could identify me at a later date. If there's some kind of investigation she can point me out on the CCTV. My life, such as it is, could quickly unravel.

I have a brief flash of longing for the old days, before technology made what I do fraught with ever increasing risk.

Lucie is talking to Poppy while I think about what to do. I can't hear what's said because of the noise, but then, with a smirk, Lucie informs me that Poppy would love to get in on the act as well.

"Do you really make dirty films?" Poppy asks, gazing at me in apparent rapture when I assure her I do. "That's awesome," she adds, nodding eagerly, eyes gleaming with lewd excitement. "Can I come, too?"

I don't have a choice. I have to take her along.

***

It's a BMW M3. Poppy is in the front passenger seat, her gaze set on Sid as he guides the car along Western Road. I'm in the back with Lucie, my mind busy with the problem of there being two of them.

This has never happened before, it's unprecedented, and given that Sid doesn't let on just what it is that goes on his head, I have no idea about what he's feeling.

Assuming he has an opinion, that is.

It isn't a long drive, just up to the church and into Palmeria Avenue, and when Sid parks the car next to the kerb I'm still bemused by what to do.

Unconcerned, Sid gets out, with Poppy following his example, an over-excited young woman all juiced up at the prospect of a lewd encounter on film.

I glance at Lucie and am once again hit by remorse. I think it's such a waste to give her to Sid.

We leave the car to be found by the police. No doubt it has some kind of tracking system installed, another technological advancement that makes it just a little more difficult. Still, by the time any connections are made between the car and the apartment Sid leads us to -- if any such connection is ever made that is -- we'll be long gone. Sid will have done whatever he needs to by midnight. After that it'll be a year until I see him again.

"You know, Lucie," I begin, taking hold of the girl's hand while Poppy jabbers to a relentlessly uncommunicative Sid. "You don't have to do this." I try an appeal that fits the scenario, the lie, she's been fed: "You're a lovely young woman. You need to think about your future. What will it be like if you fall in love and your lover finds out you made a porno film?"

Lucie turns and fixes me with her gorgeous eyes, and I think I'm halfway in love with her. It's been a lonely time for me, I realise, my life, my long life, all those years without a companion...

The loneliness hits me like a physical blow.

My, God, I want this girl for myself.

"It isn't so bad," Lucie says, shrugging.

I want to scream at her that it's a lie, but the same old pusillanimity is still with me, the spinelessness that saw me agreeing to the deal to avoid paying for my crime when I was only seventeen.

And I don't know what Sid will do to me if I deny him this girl.

So I find myself being led along a path that I know will end abruptly for Lucie and her friend.

My part in this is almost over.

I go with them into the apartment. It's quite a place Sid has for us this time, better than the place I've been living in just along Church Road. Not long after, when they're securely inside, I'll leave Sid to it.

By midnight it'll be done.

I'll pick up a newspaper tomorrow, peruse the racing pages and pick what I know will be a winning horse. I'll place a bet and collect the winnings, maybe doing the same for three or four days until I've got a nice wad of cash to see me through the next few weeks.

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