What the Heat Brings


“You’ve got an ugly pair of coconuts!” I sing with a wolf’s grin dripping indignation. I watch his micro facial expressions. Light flush to the surface of the cheeks, a flicker of the eyes as they dig into my stare, scanning for what I know.

“You feeling alright Doctor?” He says through a fragile smile.

“Not really, no. Maybe it’s the heat. Maybe it’s because Argentina have just knocked us out of the world cup. With a fucking hand-ball goal. Maybe, just maybe, it’s four years of work down the shitter.”

“I’m not following Doc”, he replies with a face that says otherwise.

“Let’s finish this conversation in the seclusion room shall we? You going to walk or do you need assistance?”

The smile is replaced with a cold stare and his sharp jaw strains at the cheeks as his teeth begin to grind. I grab the collar of his jumper, pat around the waistband of the jogging pants until I locate the crude shiv. I let it clatter to the floor before kicking it across the room for the staff to bag up for the police. Lead him through the sweltering lime green lounge into the cool serenity of the seclusion room. Leaving the door ajar he follows me in, refusing to face me. I light a Benson and Hedges without offering. Exhaling loudly I grip his blue hospital issue top by the shoulder and spin him around, hunting his eyes.

“Is it me? Am I just shit at my job? That it, is it? Four fucking years working through all your issues? Were you just bullshitting me all along? Telling me what I wanted to hear? Playing the game?”

“It’s not like that. You’ve been good to me”.

“Yes, too fucking good. Maybe that’s the problem. Look at me when I’m talking to you. That’s better. And you can knock that hard face off ‘cos it doesn’t scare me”.

“I wasn’t thinking. It just happened. It’s not your fault Doc”, he says as I watch him reliving the experience in his mind’s eye and struggling to keep from smiling.

“Well it was me who made the decision to give you leave. And don’t try and bullshit me anymore. It can’t have just happened can it? Because you took a knife. A fucking knife! I know you were thinking aswell. I know you were thinking about the fear in her eyes. She’s described you to a tee, the curls, that crook in the bridge of your nose, that grin. Our clothes you’re in, minus the bottoms obviously. But she particularly remembered your eyes staring into hers. Thank Christ that bloke and his Alsatian came along”.

“I was going to go anyway, just before he turned up. Exposing myself was enough. It’s an improvement, down to you mostly”. The smile twists my insides as his gaze burns my face.

“Don’t you fucking lie to me anymore!” I shout, jabbing my finger in his face. He focuses on the tip unflinching.

“I like you Doc, so I am giving you fair warning that I am twenty seconds away from killing you.”

“I’m done anyway. Done. Finished. I’ll let the coppers deal with you, should be here in a minute. I hope you fucking rot in here.”

“Walking away? That it? What about treatment?” He sing-songs mockingly with that smile.

“If you want my honest, professional opinion, the only treatment left is castration”.

The smile is replaced with a grimace as he lunges for my neck. I slip his reach and slam shut the door, fastening the bolts. His face appears at the small window, burning crimson as his pulse jumps an inch out of either carotid artery. Stare right through him and head out of the lounge, his banging on the door giving a beat to march to. Straight to the office as the last Benson is toked mercilessly. Take the Grouse and glug hard. Fist through each glass frame holding certificates on the wall. Screw them up and drop them in the waste bin. Throw in the dying cigarette, igniting it. Rip the empty cigarette packet open and scrawl


~ fin ~

 L.A. Sykes is from Atherton, Greater Manchester, UK. He is the author of the short story collection Noir Medley and the novella The Hard Cold Shoulder published by Close to the Bone. His next book is coming out in April 2020.