Wednesday, July 14, 2004


A knock at my office door. "One moment", I call, closing down a few internet pages. "Come in."

It creaks open. Over the top of my monitor, I see the head of the man who I murdered late last night. It's Beng. As we exchange hello's, I picture what happened. Sat on wooden benches, sipping Corona's with a few buddies, flirting with a few women sat nearby - and in walks Beng. On his own. Beng, who interrupts my day at work more than anyone else with inane questions he should already know the answer to. Beng, who interrupts my day at work with the same questions - having forgotten or misunderstood the previous answers. Beng, who emails me with a question, gets an answer he doesn't like, then emails five other people with the same query, all of whom forward his emails to me to answer, with a cc to them, please. Beng. Thin, feeble, head-wobbling, never-looks-you-in-the-eye, Beng. Coming over. To me. On a night out.

"I saw you through window. Hope you don't mind, I have question," he said, sitting down next to me, shifting my Corona, and opening his bag. "In this booklet," he continues, flicking through it to find a page. "Oh wait. Not this booklet..." Soon the table is covered with paper and documents. My friends are laughing. The women are going.

When that's over, Beng asks me where the toilet is. I point him up the stairs. "Bloody hell," says Mikey, a banker, "wish I had your job!" The heat in my cheeks must be turning them scarlet. I say I need the loo.

At the top of the stairs are three doors: Gents, Ladies, and a dim, empty function room the pub hires out for private parties. Beng walks out of the toilet, smiles at me. "One more thing," he begins to say. I grab him by the back of his neck, and hit his head into the wall. For a moment, silence. For a moment, stillness. Then, I can hear his short shaky breaths, thinly gasping from his throat. His head starts to wobble. Kicking open the function room door, I drag him in, by his hair. A quick knee in the gut. Twice. And again.

On the floor now. I pin his face with my palm. Then a boot between the legs. A stamp to the ribs. Crack. Stamp, stamp, stamp. Crack, crack, crack. Tears, and those wispy breaths - but no blood, yet. Kneeling on him, tearing at his cheeks, his lips, his tongue, his eyes, tearing at his face with my ten fingers and their ten nails, I notice that he his no longer moving, that he is no longer breathing. A red slick is spreading over his head, spilling down his neck, and then on to his clothes, and then his bag, which, still, is at his side. Beng will ask no more of me.

Over the top of my monitor now, Beng's pale head glides toward me. "I am away now," he says, "may never see you again." I don't manage a reply. I can feel a false, hopeful smile pulling up my pulsing cheeks. "But one last thing," Beng's head says.

A burst of wind chills my office, to freezing. The rain outside spits suddenly sharper. The traffic goes quiet. Then Beng says, "I bring you goodbye present," rummaging around in his bag for something, grinning. Moments later, out comes a CD. He passes it over the monitor. "Try it do! It is a thank you for help," he says, walking his whole unwounded body around to my side of the desk. Soon my PC speakers are groaning out track 1 of "Woodwind Favourites". Beng is jiggling his unharmed body a bit, side to side. "O wait!" he says, "maybe you prefer volume two, or three," rummaging around in his bag. "Also, I have question..."

Under the table, invisible to Beng, I can feel my fingers tightening, gathering themselves into a fist. And the chorus of "Let It Be" slowly soars up, on a lone clarinet.