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  • Writer's pictureMatt Johnston

Listening to the Slug (Flash Fiction)

Updated: Jul 5, 2018

The instructions from the Old Man warns against being close to the window, let alone going outside, in case the Slug balls you. But the way I see it that’s just the lingering paranoia of someone who don’t get out of his office that often. If you got new neighbours, you expect to see them ‘taking the air’ right? Even if you lived in this roach infested tenement. The Old Man also says to never underestimate the Mark, but having listened, recorded and filed his every word the past three weeks I know the Slug isn’t that sharp. And it isn’t like the Old Man’s day when people got to know their neighbours. There are many things in this shithole block but ‘community’ isn’t one of them.

Being near the window don’t offer that much relief though; interior or exterior both seem rum choices to me. This monochrome cityscape has not been washed clean by the five days of perpetual rain while this side of the glass coffee cups, cigarette butts and magazines from the endless cycles of eight hour shifts have grown mushroom like, across the empty apartment. The by-products of unhealthy men hunched over recordings of little more than the Slug’s domestic disharmony.

Not that you need the microphones to get this deep rooted insight because when the Slug kicks off with his old lady the running commentary that seep through these asbestos riddled walls don’t leave much to the imagination. I told the Old Man straight out, half joking like, if he wants shot of this guy he should just offer this bird fifty and drop a few hints of a ‘bungled investigation’ and she’d probably put something sharp between his ribs for us. But we both know it don’t work out like that.

So now Old Man is on the phone asking me what happened and who did the Slug. All I can say is what I recorded through the bugs. At ten thirteen we know he’s back at the flat when the bugs pick up the scratching key against the front door and his laboured pissed up wheezing. By ten forty three he’s got enough breath back to starts knocking seven shades out of his better half and at eleven o’ five he’s still wailing on her when the doorbell goes and there’s sound of a struggle.

The rest is in the police report: body face down in car park. Wife unconscious in kitchen and taken to St. Mary’s. No witnesses.

“Did you see anything?” says the Old Man.

“No,” says I. “I stay away from the window.”

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