A struggling single mother upon whom lady luck eventually smiles.
Louise was sprawled on her back in the darkness of the hallway. Her lip was bleeding, her mind in overdrive. She didn’t dare to move. Not yet. She couldn’t be sure that he was dead.
She held her breath as long as she could, before finally raising her head and peering into the darkness. She could make out his outline now that her vision was clearing. It looked like a pile of rags. She tried to move, but her foot was caught under his bulk.
Damn it! I’ve got to get out of here!
Suggestions were tumbling through her mind, swimming round her brain and looking for a decision, but the shock of the preceding violence overcame her ability to think productively.
Okay, think of the kids. You have to get the hell out of here!
Louise loved her kids dearly. It sounds obvious for a mother to love her children, but not on the Blacklane Estate. She saw how others treated theirs.
Blacklane was the sewer of the city. A place neglected by the council and the police. It was a battlefield. Dealers, addicts, hookers, you name it. It was on the Blacklane Estate.
Louise worked in the chip shop two nights a week. It was a little bit of cash on the side. She couldn’t manage on the benefits she received, so she took the job when Big Dan offered.
She liked him at first. He seemed kind and thoughtful; he even let her take home fish and chips at the end of the night for the kids. She felt stupid now. The world was better off without him.
Had Louise realised sooner, she would never have accepted the loan from him. She thought he would be an easy ride. A soft touch, who wouldn’t mind when she missed the odd payment. She could not have been more wrong.
Tonight’s events confirmed him as a pervert and an unscrupulous loan shark.
Louise gathered her strength for another attempt at freedom. With a heave and a grunt, she managed to free her leg. She scrambled backwards from her sitting position and cowered against the front door. She was convinced the disturbance would rouse him. She waited, breath held, and listened to the silence.
There was no sign of him breathing. Gingerly, she got to her feet and edged towards his bulk. They didn’t call him Big Dan for nothing. She was terrified. If he moved, she felt sure he wouldn’t have to finish her off; the heart attack would do it for him.
He lay on his side and Louise put her foot on his shoulder, rocking him before jumping back in case of retaliation. None came.
She knelt beside him and picked up his arm by the wrist. Letting go, it slumped lifeless to the floor. She gathered her long black hair and held it back so she could get down to listen for a heartbeat. Nothing.
Oh thank God.
The relief was immense. It cascaded over her, clearing her head and strengthening her resolve.
She couldn’t risk calling anyone. If there was even the slightest chance of the police not believing her, she couldn’t risk her kids ending up alone.
It was hard enough for the boys. They had struggled to cope since Darren had been sent down. Life was not great for them, but she did what she could. She loved them, that was the main thing. They might not get new clothes, but they knew Louise loved them more than anything else in the world.
She turned suddenly and went back into the kitchen of Big Dan’s flat. It was a small flat, situated above the chip shop. Dan had asked her to come up after work. She had no idea he was going to try it on.
She had missed a payment; he had the idea that she would pay him ‘In other ways’. He had tried to kiss her. She pulled away, shocked that he had misread the signals, but it soon became apparent that he had not misread anything. It was not a mistake. He had decided to take his payment, whether she liked it or not.
In the kitchen, Louise hurried over to the sink, washed her wine glass, dried it and put it away. Next she emptied the contents of the ashtray into her handbag that had been hanging on the back of the kitchen chair.
She moved into the lounge, had a quick look around for signs of her presence, then went into the bathroom.
She stood in front of the mirror and gasped at the image before her. Her lip was split and blood was congealing in a trail down her chin. Her hair was a tangled mess and there was a cut below her left eye. Her favourite black blouse was torn away where he had ripped at her clothes, exposing her lacy, black bra.
She opened the bathroom cabinet and rummaged through. Using a couple of safety pins, she managed to cover her exposed flesh then washed her hands and face.
She sat down on the toilet shaking. It took a few moments for her to pull herself together. Her emotions were swirling, threatening to engulf her at any moment. But she knew she had to get out and never speak of this again. She would tell people she had fallen, or even been mugged. It was common on this estate, no-one would suspect a thing.
She stepped out into the hallway, and with a deep breath, she headed in the direction of the front door. Alongside the body, she skirted sideways with her back against the wall, then bent down to retrieve the heavy, cast iron door stop. Quite ironic really, it was shaped like a pig.
'A pig killed by a pig' she thought.
Not knowing what else to do, she dropped it into her bag, making it feel like a sack of potatoes hanging from her shoulder.
Quietly, she turned the latch. She opened the door a crack to peep outside into the stairwell that led down to the outside door. She stepped out, frantically trying to think if she had missed anything, before she would commit to closing the door. She was about to let it go, when a thought struck her.
'Why not?' She thought, he’s not going to need it where he’s going.
She slipped back inside and gently closed the door.
She had to roll him over, but it didn’t take long to find his wallet. She slipped it into the waistband of her jeans and left without making a sound.
Seven years later, the events of that night seemed like they had happened to someone else. The boys were doing well, Josh was at University and Peter had his own I.T. company.
It had taken Louise a long time to trust a man again. She finally divorced Darren when she fell in love with John. He treated her and the boys well and he wasn’t just after the money.
They lived in comfort in a plush house in Oxford and Louise drove a Jaguar XK8.
None of it would have been possible, had it not been for the night she killed a man.
Who would have thought she could be so lucky?
Perhaps it was divine intervention. Who could know?
She felt good that she had stopped a man like that. Stopped him from hurting others, stopped him from ruining people’s lives... And stopped him from cashing in the winning lottery ticket she had found in his wallet.