Kaptain's Blog

The writings and musings of The Kaptain

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Number One Under Heaven (55)

Paralysed by events, Kate felt as if her life had been yanked from her body and stamped on. It felt as though there was nothing left inside: just an awful, nagging hollow that was slowly gnawing away at her, like an ulcer. In the space of less than forty-eight surreal hours, a combination of things had sent her into a tailspin. The most precious thing in her life was missing – and in China, of all places; a filthy backwater she feared and loathed in equal measure. And there had been other shocks, too. She had learned, by chance, that her husband no longer had a job. Kate could barely understand how this development affected her feelings towards him. She had been drifting apart from Blake, anyway. But did she now feel sorry for him, or angry that he had said nothing? Both? And lastly, there was Tommy. She could not bear to think of what she had done with him, it was so cheap. His callous dismissal had been the proof of that.

“I’m afraid it’s going to take you a very long time to get over this, even after your little girl is found,” remarked Doctor Elliot, softening his prognosis with a hint of optimism. Kate barely stirred from her reverie. “It’s called post-traumatic stress disorder,” he went on. “Like what soldiers suffer from, after returning from the battlefields. You’ll be feeling the same kind of thing.” “Have they found her yet…? My baby…?” Kate said absently, her thoughts claimed once more by the subject that had infested her mind almost every waking moment, since taking the phone call that changed her life. “I don’t have any information about that, unfortunately,” Doctor Elliot replied, his soothing tone a deliberate affectation. “Perhaps the police–” “Don’t talk to me about the fucking police! Or the school!” Kate suddenly blurted. “I’ll kill that bastard Hewitt! I’ll fucking kill him!” Head buried in a cushion, she now wept silently, her body jerking with every sob. The Doctor gently rubbed her back, barely managing to quell the inappropriate thoughts her curves began to induce.

“This is the sort of thing I’m talking about, Kate,” he said, now lifting his hand shyly. “You’re going to need to stay on medication for a while, to regulate your behaviour.” “I don’t want to be fucking regulated!” she screeched into the pillow. “I just want my little girl back!” “Come on now, Kate. You need to rest some more. When you wake up again, things may be very different.” Opening his bag, Doctor Elliot took out another dose of sedatives for her to swallow. Fearing the obvious, he did not want to risk leaving the whole packet, so instead he tore just two from their wrappers. Taking her hand, he placed them into her palm before gently squeezing it closed. “I’ll come by again later,” he then concluded, while crossing the room to exit quietly through the door.

After he had gone, Kate walked down the corridor to Sophie’s room, the pills skittering across the marble floor as she dropped them, inattentively. The smell of her daughter was everywhere in the bedroom, bringing further tears to her eyes. Collapsing on to the bed, Kate moaned, her sorrow too much for her to bear. Why? she silently asked her God. Why my little girl? Why Sophie…?

Bei Din Din’s face was as dark as thunder. It was the look that, over the years, had become his default expression. Stepping up on to the train at Nanning’s central station as the guard’s whistle blew, he shoved his way past a group of fellow travellers, roughly claiming the first available seat. The woman beside him shrank away nervously, feigning interest in something that was outside, through the window. For Din needed to do little to induce fear: the pistol he carried in his overnight bag was scarcely required for that. But it would be needed for the mission – the exercise in risk mitigation. Blam-blam-blam… he pondered, a smile beginning to form in a corner of his mouth. Blaaaam! Those shrimp-heads won’t even see it coming…

The wheels screeched as the train began moving, its destination of Guilin becoming imperceptibly closer as it did. And the four lowlifes who had meanwhile gathered there, sitting huddled once more in a grimy karaoke bar to down shot after shot of cheap mao tai, were one second closer to a grisly, unseen fate. Filthy drunken mongrels, thought Din, as if he could sense what they would be doing. I’ll fucking neuter them… Before they have a chance to squeal… And now there was a broad grin across his face, which he shared with his neighbour, leaning over to push it so close to hers that, recoiling in terror, she banged her head into the window with a thud.

posted by Kirk at 11:56 pm  

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