Jack Waite, a small time crook, hid behind a large skip in the dark alley. The rain lashed down and he pulled his jacket tightly around him as he shivered in the cold. He threw the smouldering remains of his cigarette onto the damp ground and stamped it out with his heel. He trembled. Not only with the cold but also with fear. The fear that shook violently in his whole body as he recalled the evil deed he was about to commit.
He poked his head out from behind the skip and glanced into the bleak darkness of the alley. He could just make out a pub called the Rose and Crown at the end of it. The time was eleven-o-clock, and he knew that soon, a drunk from the pub would use the alley as a shortcut home. Jack had it all planned out. When the drunk passed the skip Jack would jump out, hit him with a brick, grab his wallet, and then run all the way back to his flat. And so he stayed hidden. Watching. Waiting for his victim.
Suddenly, a sound made him jump. The sound of an object clattering against the wall. He looked. Then he breathed a sigh of relief. It was only a cat in a bin looking for food.
With cold shaky hands Jack fumbled for a cigarette. Suddenly the sound of drunken roars made him jump. He looked up the alley again. In the dark shadows he could make out a shape. The shape of a man. A drunk. The drunk was staggering from side to side, obviously the worst for drink. His arms and body swayed as he sang a drunken ditty. Jack waited with baited breath. The drunk was getting closer. The tension in Jack’s chest rose to bursting point. The drunk had passed the skip.
Jack grabbed hold of a brick and jumped out. He raised the brick above his head. The drunk stopped singing and his face locked in horror. Jack smashed the brick into the drunk’s forhead and watched him collapse into a heap on the ground. Sweating feverishly Jack grabbed the drunk’s wallet from his jacket and ran away from the alley.
Back in the safety of his small pokey flat Jack locked the door and leant against it breathing heavily. When he had caught his breath he opened the wallet and smiled. Inside were fifty pounds and an ID card which said “Harry Gorse”. Jack put the money in his back pocket and examined the wallet in the hope of finding more money. It was an old battered brown wallet with a zip at the side for loose change. Apart from the ID card it was completely empty so Jack threw it on the table, and went to the drinks cabinet to pour himself a large whiskey.
He sat on his battered old couch and looked around the room. The walls were bare, the carpet was ragged, and the little furniture he had was the couch, the drinks cabinet, and an old coffee table. His joy quickly turned to sadness as he remembered how his life used to be. He was married to a beautiful woman and had two healthy children. He also had a good job with prospects. But it all went wrong the day he stole that money from the till. He was caught on video camera and fired on the spot.
In his anguish he went to the nearest pub to drown his sorrows. Whilst there he met an attractive prostitute. He got completely drunk and spent the night with her. In the morning he felt so guilty he went home and told his wife everything. She was so upset she packed her bags and left him, taking the children with her. Life got worse. Jack couldn’t find another job so he turned to a life of crime. Robbing people and selling drugs. Anyway he could get money. And now here he was, alone in a pokey little flat with no friends and no hope.
He polished off the rest of the whiskey and fell asleep on the couch.
The morning came and Jack was awoken by the clatter of the letter box. The morning paper had arrived. Jack picked it up and glanced through it as he walked back to the couch. A piece of news caught his eye and caused him to gasp in shock.
A man was found dead last night in an alley near the Rose and Crown. The man, identified as Harry Gorse, was killed by a blow to the forehead by a brick. A man was seen running from the area around about 11:10pm.
The flow of the shock hit Jack like a bullet. He couldn’t believe it. He had killed that drunk. He had only meant to knock him down. But kill him! It was an accident! Jack’s hands were trembling as he reached for a full bottle of whiskey and poured a large measure. He took a deep swig and looked at the table. The wallet was there. The wallet of a dead man. Jack cupped his hands over his head. He had to get rid of it. The police could come and find it. He opened the door, grabbed the wallet, and threw it in the nearest skip, making sure his fingerprints were wiped off it first.
As he emerged from the alley he saw a coffee shop and decided a hot cup of coffee would help him calm down. He ordered his coffee and sat down while he waited for someone to bring it. As he sat at the table trying to recollect his thoughts, his memory flashed a vision of last night. The horror of his victim’s face as the brick crashed down on him. It was the last sight Harry Gorse would ever see. The reality of the horror hit Jack with force as he realised something about himself. He was a murderer. He had committed murder for the first time in his life.
Suddenly he noticed a presence before him. He gazed up slightly. His vision was lined up with someone’s stomach. He allowed his eyes to trail slowly up the person’s body before resting them on the face. Jack blinked. There was something familiar about this face. It supported a large black bushy beard and cold eyes. The forehead was caved in, with streams of blood dripping over the eyes. The mouth started to move. Slowly forming into an evil grin. The eyes narrowed and fixed themselves on Jack. Suddenly he recognised the face. It was the face of Harry Gorse.
Jack covered his eyes and screamed.
‘Are you alright sir?’ a voice said.
‘Huh.’ Jack looked up.
‘Are you alright sir?’ the voice repeated.
There stood the cafe owner holding a cup of coffee. He looked at Jack concerned.
‘Oh Err, I’m fine, thanks.’ said Jack taking the coffee and cupping it in his hands.
With shaking hands Jack swiftly glanced around the room, and raised the coffee to his lips. He took a swig and stopped. This coffee tasted funny. He looked inside the cup. It was full of blood! He jumped up screaming and dropped the cup, which smashed all over the floor. He looked again to see not blood, but spilt coffee mixed with the shattered remains of the cup. He looked around to meet the gaze of the startled cafe owner and then quickly left.
Back home he reached for the whiskey and quickly sank two doubles. Leaning forward over the drinks cabinet he took a good long look at himself in the mirror. Trying to make sense of what just happened. After a third double he convinced himself that his mind was playing tricks on him. He glanced at the table and dropped his glass in fright. The wallet! it was back on the table. How could this be? He had thrown it into the skip in the alley. Now here it is back in the room.
Suddenly he heard a deep throaty laugh behind him. He spun round. The image in the mirror was transforming into something different. Jack gazed in terror as the grinning face of Harry looked back.
Jack rushed into the bedroom and locked himself in. He went to the window to close the curtains only to see Harry’s face in the reflection. Grinning at him. Laughing at him. Then it spoke.
‘I want my wallet, give me back my wallet.’
‘No!’ cried Jack. ‘You’re dead, leave me alone.’ The bedroom door was only yards away so Jack unlocked it and escaped back into the living room. He stopped in his tracks as the television switched itself on. A game show was on and the host was talking to a winner.
‘Well done. You’ve won the game. What would you like as a prize?’
‘What I would really like is….’
‘My wallet….I want my wallet.’
The evil face of Harry popped up again. ‘You have my wallet, give me my wallet.’
Jack grabbed the wallet and ran into the kitchen. Shaking with fear he quickly filled a bucket with paper and threw the wallet in. Then he set the bucket on fire and watched it burn. He ran out of the house to thrown the ashes in the skip. He got halfway down the alley then stopped to get his breath back. He placed his hand over his heart and felt a lump. He reached into his pocket. Oh no, it was the wallet! How was this possible? He’d only just burnt it. The next thing he saw was a brick crashing down on his head and everything went black.
The next day two muggers were counting the money they had stolen whilst reading the news about the murder of Jack Waite in the local alley. They were so busy counting that they didn’t notice something strange. An old brown battered wallet on the table.