Violet’s Eye by Carla Kovach – 27th October 2013
“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.” – Mark Twain.
Peeling back his glove, he stared at the wound on his palm which was rounder than earlier. He cursed the dirty ring pull that had cut him the day before. The opening had become raw and throbbed intensely. A glint of white shone under the street lamp, was it bone? He flinched as the throbbing travelled from the wound’s epicentre out as far as his shoulder. Pain seared from his arm to his head and radiated out towards his chest. Feeling unbalanced he leaned against a lamp post. The pain would go, he was sure it would. After all, he’d always got better before.
“You okay Love?” An old woman shouted. He scurried off not looking back; heading out of the lamplight and into the darkness where he could hide. Hospital wasn’t an option and the last thing he needed was a Good Samaritan calling him an ambulance. Six years he had remained out of the system and out of it he would stay. Where had the time gone?
He didn’t know back then that Bill had a gun, he said it was plastic, that it was a prop to scare the betting shop assistant into giving them the money. Still wrong, but no-one was going to die, right?
Shuddering, he recalled the bang, then the image of red liquid spreading quickly around the young woman’s head; specs of brain matter on the back wall; the ringing in his ears from the gunshot and the one eye that was left. He watched as her life came to an end. An empty shell lay before him. He remembered his heart beating rapidly, hyperventilation, a blackness surrounding him as his breaths drew no oxygen, all before Bill struck him hard across the face.
Panicking, they ran and ran until they reached the car. “What the hell just happened? The gun, I thought-” Cutting off his sentence Bill threw a bag of money at him, drove off and left him standing there alone in the rain. Alone with the image of her corpse boring deep into his conscience.
That was his first day of ‘this’ freedom that Bill had promised. Free from his bad home life; free from debt; free from his reputation as a loser. It didn’t take long for him to realise he was actually a prisoner. Imprisoned by the elements, the image of death and the one lifeless eye. Sobbing in the rain, he counted the money. Eighteen hundred pounds was what he had to go on the run with. Now, six years on he had none of that money left. It had lasted all of three months. Living under the radar had been the only option if he’d wanted to remain free.
“Ahh,” he wailed as his hand throbbed again. A couple stared at him as they passed. He pulled his long wiry hair around his face in an attempt to mask who he was. Escaping the authorities had been easy, escaping himself had proven to be a greater challenge. Thirty seven was his age but the streets had taken their toll. The city drinkers, who were often older than him would shout ‘old man,’ and laugh at him as he lay in abandoned shop entrances.
Maybe a doctor he thought, as he winced at the intense burning coming from beneath the glove. No, he would have to give a name, an address. The latter he didn’t have, the former he did have but he no longer felt like a Simon any more. What did it matter if he was Simon, Mick, Albert or Jamie? To most he was a ‘move on,’ ‘you can’t stay here,’ ‘tramp.’ He was a nobody. Either invisible or ignored. What he did know was that loose change was scarce and the bins weren’t as fruitful as they’d been the same time last year.
With his good hand he pulled out his collection: A Coffee shop loyalty card, he only needed one more sticker from an empty cup for a free coffee: Half a pre-packed sandwich, salmon and cucumber. He bit into the soft grainy bread and savoured its flavour. It had been a long time since salmon had appeared on his menu. It was nice and cold; at least he wouldn’t get ill from it. Although the summers were easier for sleeping rough, food was safer in the winter. Licking his lips he threw the wrapper to the floor and scurried off in the direction of the allotments.
Darkness suffocated him as he got further away from the town. The lights had provided some comfort but he knew that it was safer in the blackness of the shed. Looking back, there was no-one around. He shuffled along. The only sound was the cracking of dried twigs underneath as he stepped on them. He inhaled the woody smell that had lingered in the air around these parts, a reassuring smell that he now associated with home.
Christmas had gone, February had passed. His days in the shed were now numbered. Maybe next week he would start to take his bag with him just in case the owner visited. He took the padlock key from under the plant pot and struggled to unlock it with his left hand, eventually he opened the shed door. Before stepping in, he urinated against the side of the shed. Steam came up from the ground as the warm fluid hit the hard, iced mud.
The wind began to howl and the windows rattled. Light snow gracefully danced to the wind’s tune before falling gently to the ground. He watched out of the window. As the clouds dispersed, a faint light from the half moon lit up the earth. He flinched as he carefully pulled his glove down; the woollen strands had attached themselves to the wound. As he pulled the strands away they revealed raw bloody flesh that glistened in the light. The wound had expanded wider, about the size of a fifty pence piece he guessed. He momentarily heaved as he caught sight of the slimy trail leading from the glove to his hand. Shaking his head and breathing rapidly, he knew it was serious.
His body stiffened as sharp pains darted up the full length of his arm and through his head. A white aura flashed in front of him burning into his brain. “No,” he yelled as he landed in a heap, hard onto the floor. Grabbing all his clothes he curled up in the corner of the shed, shaking as he stared at the bloody opening. Wide eyed he watched as it mutated. “No! What are you?” He screamed? The wound began to bubble like a mini volcano, first a warning splutter, then full eruption. Slime and sticky blood oozed out and landed on his coat, the flow increased, he could no longer contain it on his coat. It splashed onto the wooden slats and was quickly absorbed into his already damp layers of clothing. “Please stop, please stop,” he yelled as his hand shook uncontrollably.
Alone he screamed, twisted and turned. His back contorted as the stabbing intensified. Cold but hot. Sweaty but shivery. He salivated until he was dribbling. “Ahh,” again his back arched, he felt something pop, a snapped tendon. Pop like a bullet, pop like a gun shot. He grabbed his infected hand with his good hand and after a battle managed to force it to hold still whilst he checked it. One last glug of slime spewed out onto his arm and he stared at what the wound had revealed. “No, no!” He yelled.
In the wound a white globe shone brightly. Slowly, it turned to reveal a blue eye. Gasping, he tried to scream, tried to yell but there was no release, just a pent up intention that was blocked by the horror of the eye that stared back him. The eye that was engraved on his mind, one he had not seen in a physical sense since that day, six years ago. Breathing deep and fast, his heart palpitated. Each beat banged like a bass drum in his ear. Each beat caused a pain so intense that his body jerked.
A watery liquid formed around the eye creating a burning sensation. “Stop,” he yelled as he let go of the shaking hand. “Please make it stop.”
Liquid gathered in the wound before spurting in a jet over his face. It trickled down his cheek, passed the sides of his nose and over his mouth before gathering to drip from the end of his chin. Wiping his mouth with his sleeve he licked his now dry lips. Salt, he tasted salt. Salty tears coming directly from the eye, showing him the pain he’d once caused its owner. It was possessing him; rubbing salt in his wounds.
“It was a she,” he stammered as his body shook violently. “Violet Simmonds.” Violet’s eye cried harder, tears gushed like a water fall washing the blood away. “I’m sorry Violet. I didn’t know it was a real gun. I didn’t know. I’m sorry.” Simon yelled. Within seconds the gushing came to a halt, the skin surrounding the wound closed shut. A few silent seconds passed, all he could hear was his heart racing. Was he cured? Had the wound been sealed? Slowly the wound began to open again before ripping quickly – a blink. “Please make it end, please.” The white eyeball began to turn bloodshot before exploding into many pieces covering Simon’s face.
Yelling, he tried to stand but his legs failed. His body convulsed and a white froth spilled out from the side of his mouth. He breathed in short, sharp spurts before he finally allowed the darkness to win the battle. Suffocated by the night.
Violet had won. She had haunted him to the end before executing a well deserved punishment. He smiled; he had faced his wrong and would die for it. She deserved justice and now she had it. No longer would the image of the eye burn into his soul. No longer would he be a prisoner of himself. The eye had freed him. He smiled as the light went out.
Two weeks later.
He awoke to a beeping sound. White, everything was white. Was there a heaven? He never believed there was but maybe he was wrong. Trying to lift his head up, a heaviness pulled it back down.
“Hello John,” said a woman’s voice. “I’m Nurse Jennie Billingham. The Doctor will be here soon.”
“Is my name John?”
“I was hoping you could tell us that. You were found in an allotment shed, suffering a severe infection to a hand wound. You’re lucky to be alive.”
“So, I’m not dead?”
“No, thanks to the amount of salt water you attempted to clean your wound up with. You were covered in it when the guy found you. I’ll go and get you a drink.”
He heard her soft steps head towards the door before it closed. He had survived. He had been given a second chance, a chance to do the right thing. He thought of Violet and her sad blue eye and began to sob. Salty tears of his own dripped down his cheek and meandered into his open sobbing mouth before dripping off his chin. The nurse re-entered.
“My name is Simon. Simon Maxwell. I’m wanted by the police. Please call the police.” He said as he closed his eyes. The eye that had bored into his mind for so long no longer cried. It was no longer sad, its image was fading away.
At the time, freedom had been escaping his punishment, escaping responsibility, his disappointed family and his debts but looking back it had been a prison sentence. Running away from his crime had dragged him down so deep; he’d almost been buried alive. With his liberty about to be taken, he was now truly free.
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