Deadline

By Gary Hewitt

Jack Richards awaits the murderer of murderers. He smooths his remaining strands of white hair. The wall-clock trudges to the hour of 10.

His companion stares up from the table, his blue eyes reddened. Jack orders him to eat the rest of his breakfast. Tommy Glass bites into a charred sausage. Jack wanted to treat him with a full English feast but was told no.

Jack vowed never to get close. He read the papers and the gruesome reports. The butchering and violation of that toddler deserved no mercy. And yet the young man in front of Jack appears to be a charming, intelligent and gentle soul.

Tommy scatters cutlery across the plate. He tries to thank Jack but his eyes swell with impending terror. Jack rushes to his side and tells him everything will be fine.

Tommy finds little solace in Jack’s empty words. How can everything be all right? He will soon dance his awkward jig. Jack won’t be there to watch his dramatic departure.

They gaze at the clock: five precious minutes. Jack tells Tommy he will miss their word games and his help with the crosswords. They laugh about playing hangman. Tommy was brilliant at the game. Jack chokes at the thought of the past tense.

No-one has bothered to say goodbye to Tommy except his unfortunate mother. He told her he was innocent. She is the only person in the whole of England who believes him. Jack pours two cups of tea. He doubts Tommy will have time to drink his.

Tommy blows his nose.

“I won’t have to worry about this cold for much longer, will I?”

“Well thanks to you, your damn bug will live on in me. Guess this is your way of saying goodbye, Tommy. At least you’ve shaved off that wispy beard and moustache.”

Jack flinches when punctual footsteps march along the corridor. The solitary light bulb flickers twice. Jack looks into Tommy’s eyes for the final time and tells him to be brave. Tommy’s resolve disintegrates under his gaze. He calls for his mother before desperate tears and emotion seize his voice. Jack gives him his handkerchief.

Doom’s keys rattle in the cell door. The watchman orders Tommy to stand. Jack moves aside with a straight back. Tommy is ordered to get a move on.

The cell door slams. Tommy’s tears and protests fade as he moves away from Jack’s hearing. Jack inspects the clock. He whispers fours words into the hollow cell.

“I’ll miss you mate.”


Gary Hewitt is a raconteur who lives in a village in Kent. His style of writing tends to feature edgy characters. He will release his novel Shadowfruit in 2016. He is also a proud member of the Hazlitt Arts Centre Writers. To learn more about my writing, visit my website.

Tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Deadline

  1. Tamara says:

    Nice story…well done! Great imagery, pretty dramatic. You really feel those last minutes ticking…

  2. Kerry White says:

    Gritty. No one is saved. Loss simply continues.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *