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The Clockwatcher
by Mark Abrahamson

 

The following appeared on the front page of the Stokersfield Herald, dated the 10th of June 1999.

'The tragic victim of a hit and run accident, was today named as Mrs Sandra Ashby. Eight month's pregnant, Mrs Ashby, 37, was killed instantly, by a hit and run driver as she crossed a pedestrian crossing at 3pm on the 7th of June. Doctors at the Stokersfield General Hospital were unable to save the unborn child. The deceased's husband, local businessman, Charles Ashby, was stated by relatives to be 'distraught'.

A local man has been arrested in connection with the death'.

Mr and Mrs Charles Ashby had had everything. A beautiful large house, a thriving business, and now, after years of trying, their last dream had been only weeks away. They'd literally been that close to becoming parents for the first time. At 3pm on the 7th of June 1999, that dream died.

Charles Ashby, was consumed with thoughts of revenge against Albert Collins, the man police had charged with vehicular manslaughter. Dr Albert Collins was 52. He was balding and obese, with a bulbous, drinkers nose. He was also a practising magistrate, and sole GP in the nearby village of Braydon. This pillar of society was the same man who had been released by inept police on unconditional bail pending trial. This murderer of his beloved wife and eagerly anticipated baby, had not even been suspended by the GMC.

The need for retribution had become like a virulent cancerous growth inside Charles. He needed an eye for an eye. This meant Albert Collins had to die.

Charles, looked at the dashboard clock it was 4.15pm on a stormy December's night. Within twenty minutes, Dr. Albert Coffins would be dead. A man called Vernon Wilson would see to that.

Vernon Wilson tried to raise his head from his soiled, bare mattress. The gnawing of rats behind wet and warped skirting boards, sounded like hammer drills in his head. The grime stained and cracked window of his only habitable room, shone dully with diffused grey fight.

Was it morning or afternoon? He knew one thing, it was freezing, lying there in the only clothes he possessed. It must be Winter then? But what day, what month?

Oh, how he needed it, like never before. He'd taken all of the fad's in drugs over the years, LSD, marijuana, Acid and 'E'. He'd even shared a syringe of heroin once, with someone called Bruce or Billy. Bruce or Billy had died and he'd been in hospital for months. However, the stuff the posh speaking tramp brought him was something else. Smoked through this pipe, within seconds you were gone, away from this hellhole, alive again.

Yes, he needed that white salt stuff now! He wondered, before a muscle spasm cramped both arms and legs, and his vision faded to pinpricks, what the white stuff was?

Charles had used an underground web site, to gain all the information regarding, crack cocaine. It was quoted as being one of the quickest and most addictive of drugs. The internet had led him, via a secure WAP phone, to a dealer called 'J'. A 'meet' was set up and he purchased his first stash. With the intimidating presence of J's minders, it was at first, a frightening experience. However, as 'J' was polite and educated as well as always being punctual, a fact he liked, the fear slowly subsided. The other plus point was 'J' could lay his hands on as much Crack as he wanted - enough to get a thousand Vernon Wilson's, totally and hopelessly addicted. So addicted that he would become increasingly paranoid and eventually psychotic. So psychotic that he would kill for a pipe full of the salt like pellets.

Charles had picked Vernon carefully.

Dressing himself as a down and out, even remembering to swap his Rolex for a cheap digital, he'd followed him discreetly for weeks.

Vernon squatted in a flat which was in a disgusting state. Charles had found this out by entering through a broken window, one night, when Vernon was slouched in the 'Kings Head'. His flat was in a row condemned by the council, and apart from the occasional gangs of kids, roaming around, setting fires and throwing stones, the area was quiet. Vernon was an alcoholic, a shoplifter, mugger and petty thief. He was also a burglar in his rare sober moments. He'd also used drugs from the evidence lying on the floors of his flat. Best of all, he was a total loner.

He interacted with people only to get drink, drugs or money. Vernon was perfect.

Getting darker now. Vernon lay on his side facing the window. He was in the foetal position, the cramps in his stomach, intense. Another wave of excruciating tremors struck his whole body. He covered his eyes with dirt encrusted hands. He honestly thought that his eyeballs were about to explode from their sockets. The posh speaking tramp, who irritatingly kept checking his watch, had to come soon. He remembered vaguely now, that this man who he called the clockwatcher, always came at night. Before he could get his stuff, he would have to listen to him, as he was always forced to do. The words always related to Albert Collins

This Albert Collins was the supplier of the stuff that would take all the pain away. He needed Albert Collins and the clockwatcher with a passion he'd never felt for anything, in his life. They were his reason for living.

It hadn't been difficult at all to befriend the low life that was Vernon Wilson. Unshaven and dressed in dirty and tom clothes, Charles, had sat himself outside a boarded up property on Vernon's side of the street. It was precisely 11.30pm on the day that Vernon would have collected his benefit. This meant he would be drinking in the Glass House pub until he was thrown out at closing time. This would also mean he would be desperate for more drink. With this in mind Charles had came with a carrier containing eight cans of cheap lager, and two bottles of cider. In his pocket he had two pipes, a supply of happy backy and a introductory quantity of crack. As sleet started to fall from the sky, he watched as Vernon staggered up the deserted street.

Stopping to brush the wet, bedraggled hair from his eyes, Vernon became aware of two feet blocking his unsteady passage home. They belonged to a man who was obviously a tramp, but when he spoke, although drunk, his voice was cultured and educated,

'Hey, mate, ya wanna 'ave a drink with me?'

Charles watched as Vernon in his torn suit jacket swayed and tried to focus on him from behind a long ragged fringe of dark hair. Waiting for Vernon's reply, Charles instinctively checked his watch. He had timed everything so meticulously that time was now an obsession with him.

Vernon noticed the tramp checking a cheap watch, and deciding it wasn't worth robbing him for it, replied,

'Well, if ya've got drink I'll. 'ave some wiv ya. I'm not proud.'

He'd handed him an open bottle of cider and watched as he drank hard and noisily from it

Disgusted at the wreckage of a human being in front of him, but determined in his plan, he asked Vernon,

'Have, ya not got a place? Get us oot of this bloody weather?'

And that was it. He was invited into Vernon's damp, rat infested flat.

Later that night, he'd shared some happy baccy with Vernon before introducing him to the delights of crack cocaine. The next night, he'd engineered a meet with him, and started to up the amount of crack he gave him. And so on, until after three weeks, Vernon was left with two day's worth of crack. The problem was, he was using it up in one day. Vernon was addicted.

And then as Charles, observed the emaciated Vernon, suffering seizures and severe muscle spasm's, he'd started to slowly reduce the amount of crack he left him. He started to tell him that Albert Collins, was upping the price of the white stuff, and making it difficult for him to get enough.

At first, Vernon didn't seem concerned, as he occupied himself with fining his pipe. But as the days went on, and he fed him the lies about Albert Collins, he could see the desperation, behind skittish eyes. Pure naked fear was etched on that dirty face.

Vernon was now down to about a half day's supply.

It was newly time.

Vernon, couldn't sleep. He paced the bare boards of the empty bedroom, frantically. He kept stopping as he thought he heard whispering. Nothing Pacing again, quickly, thinking.

'The clockwatcher, Albert: Collins, I need white stuff.

Over and over again, his mind repeated. He'd had no stuff left for what seemed like week's. The whispering was becoming almost constant. His head pounded, he'd started a twitch in both eyes. Cramps in his stomach doubled him over, yet still he walked, around and around the room.

He suddenly stopped. He was next to the window. Whispers again, but then the scratch of a key in a lock, the scrape of the buckled door, heavy footsteps on creaking floorboards. The tramp, the man he called the clockwatcher, his best friend was here. Tears of relief ran down his face into his snarled beard.

'I'm really sorry Vernon but Albert Collins has stopped my supply.'

Vernon, framed in the muted glow of the outside sodium lamp, stared at him His eyes were wide, his mouth opened and closed, blowing plumes of foul air into Charles's face.

'But I need stuff,' Vernon pleaded with him, his voice high, rapid and desperate.

'Welt you'll have to see Albert Collins yourself'

'Pleeeaaassse, I'm begging you.' Vernon fell to his knees and gripped his logs tightly with his bony fingers. 'I have to have some now!'

Charles could feel the tremors running through Vernon's body, as he reached down and released his surprisingly strong grip. Checking his watch, Charles silently turned, left the flat and it's panic stricken occupant.

For Vernon the next day had been an eternal agony of muscle twitches and seizures. He had blinding pains in his head and blurred vision. Voices surrounded him, taunting and laughing at him. He'd retrieved a rusted knife from the kitchen and roamed from room to room, looking for the owners of the voices. He couldn't keep still. He'd slashed his mattress to pieces, threw a chair and small table against the wall and tore a door from it's hinges. He realised he'd been chanting, over and over again.

'Albert Collins has my stuff, Albert Collins has my stuff.'

Darkness had fallen eventually. He sat in the corner of the room with his knees hunched up to his bearded chin, he was still chanting.

The key rasped m the lock.

'I want Albert Collins.' Vernon growled at the clockwatcher.

'Good.' Charles replied, noticing, as he helped his unknowing accomplice to his feet, the large knife Vernon carried. 'I've got a car outside.'

Twenty minutes later, Charles stopped the rented car at a lay-by, a mile outside the village of Braydon. He turned his head in the glow from the car's instruments, to look at his Mumbling passenger.

'I showed you when we drove through the village where Albert Collins, will be, do you remember?' Charles asked. 'Yes and I want Albert Collins he has my stuff,' Vernon replied, 'and I want him now.'

'Now, where does Albert Collins keep the stuff?

In a black bag, Albert Collins has my stuff in a black leather bag, like a Doctor's bag.'

'That's good. Now, what do you do if he won't give you the stuff.'

'I want Albert Collins, I want my stuff, I'll kill Albert Collins,' snarled Vernon as he flung open the car door and stepped out into the freezing Winter's night.

Leaning over, Charles pulled shut the passenger door. He watched in his mirror at the dark figure of Vernon Wilson stomping through increasing sleet towards the village.

At 4.30pm, when Dr. Albert Collins would be expecting some old lady with bunions or a baby with the sniffles, Vernon Wilson would become his first and last patient for the night indeed for his fife.

Charles gunned the car engine, and sped towards his luxury home. He glanced at the dashboard clock. It was 4.15pm on a stormy December's night.

The following appeared in the late news section, of the Stokersfield Herald, dated the 17th of December 1999,

A doctor has been killed in a frenzied attack in the small village of Braydon.

Police have confirmed that a man died at a surgery belonging to the GP and magistrate, Albert Collins. Police will not name the deceased man, until relatives have been informed. They have stated, however, that the deceased is thought to be in his early thirties, and was a locum Doctor.

Returning late last night from a conference, Dr. Albert Collins, was reported as saying it was a 'terrible tragedy'.

 

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