A Good Dying

by Alastair Keen

‘Tickets please.’

The girl lifted her huge carpet bag on to the table and started rummaging, ‘Shit, it’s in here somewhere.’

The guard rolled his eyes, holding on to a seat to steady himself. The girl brushed her long henna red hair back, then attempted and failed, to blow the stray strands away from her face.

She first placed an antique silver rose bowl and a bright green shower cap in the shape of a frog, carefully on the table.

‘Oh good grief,’ whispered the guard.

The girl wiped her brow on the velvet sleeve of her maroon dress. She then lifted both arms into the air, shaking them in an attempt to move the sleeves up her arm. Bangles jingled, rings sparkled. The guard smelled rose water.

A jade grotesque; what appeared to be a cheese and pickle sandwich; a can of ready mixed gin and tonic; a teddy bear key ring; cough medicine.

‘Aaargh, where is it?’ she said. ‘Deep breaths.’ Eyes framed in thick black eye makeup looked to the heavens.

The guard plucked at the front of his shirt trying to get some air flow.

The girl dived head long back into the bag. A flat cap; black notebook; chocolate muffin; silenced .22 calibre Ruger; train ticket.

‘Here it is,’ she said. ‘Oh.’

The guard was running out of the rear of the empty carriage, ticket machine bouncing off his hip and the seats. She shrugged her shoulders and meticulously placed the items back in the bag. The squeak of the brakes and the announcer declared they had arrived at Exeter Station. She loped out of the station.

The girl checked the address in her notebook. Satisfied, she walked up the empty drive. The old man looked up as she walked around the corner of the bungalow.

A red rose of blood grew on the old man’s white shirt, followed a microsecond later, by the sound of two rounds entering his chest and the soft tinkle of brass shell cases falling on the patio stones.

The girl sighed. A sad satisfied sigh. There was a ‘Wills and Kate’ mug on the patio table. She tipped the tea into the flower bed and wiped it out with the hem of her dress. The girl placed the mug in her bag and left for the station.

Back on the train she consulted her notebook while devouring her cheese sandwich. Without looking she retrieved the can of gin and tonic from her bag and downed half of it. She held her hand in front of her. Still steady; after a year still steady. What did that mean?

The property in Bristol was a terraced house made of red brick. She looked at her watch and waited in the bus shelter over the road. A bus stopped, blocking her view. She waved it on.

A blue car  pulled off the drive. She stood, clomped across the road and around the back of the house. The back door was open. She made her way to the stairs. She climbed. Front bedroom. In the dressing table mirror the reflection of the man was asleep. She crept in, avoiding the tubes, wires and host of mobility equipment. He was on his side facing away from her. She placed the cold muzzle of the suppressor against the nape of his neck. She shot him in the back of the head with a single soft nosed round. No exit wound. No noise, apart from the top slide of the automatic clicking backward then forward.

Gently she moved the man on to his back. No pulse. There was a spoon left on a tray from dinner. She picked it up and wiped the soup on her dress. It went into the bag. She caught the last train to London.

The girl stepped on to a narrow boat and slipped through the small door in the stern. She flicked on the lamp just inside the door as it was dusk. One by one she placed the items from the bag on the many shelves, fitting them in where she could. There was barely enough room.

Spoon; mug; rose bowl; teddy bear key ring; shower cap; grotesque were all placed on the shelves. She booted up her laptop. She had mail.

Dear Dignity,

We are need of your services. My wife has Parkinsons and we are in agreement. Please contact us as soon as possible.


‘No rest for the righteous,’ she said to the photograph of her mother on the desk.

Alastair Keen is based in East Devon.

  1. #1 by jennifer walmsley on December 8, 2011 - 7:35 am

    Excellent. Really enjoyed this. The girl well described. I had to smile at the contents of her bag but, at the end, realised why she carried so much clutter. And there I thought it was random killing.

  2. #2 by Vic on December 8, 2011 - 4:15 pm

    An excellent story. Superb ending. What more can I say? I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Actually there is something more I can say – this should be picked up for screenplay. The idea is brilliant and I haven’t seen it used before. Brilliant name, Dignity, bearing in mind the name of the Swiss euthanasia clinic, Dignitas.

  3. #3 by Sandra on December 8, 2011 - 4:33 pm

    Excellent read. I’d no idea where this was going and the ending came as a complete surprise.
    Thanks for the read.

  4. #4 by Ros on December 9, 2011 - 7:39 am

    Lovely description of the girl, unusual idea and very enjoyable. More please.

  5. #5 by Alastair on December 9, 2011 - 7:42 am

    Thanks for all your comments. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  6. #6 by mariann on December 10, 2011 - 12:51 pm

    Great lateral thinking. Oh for the days when I travelled from Exmouth to Exeter before I returned to the frozen north.

  7. #7 by Naila on December 10, 2011 - 9:28 pm

    I agree with what everyone else has said excellent read! really didnt see that end coming! Also I love the way you wrote about the rose of blood growing, excellent description. Cant wait for more

  8. #8 by Alastair on December 10, 2011 - 9:41 pm

    I hope I will get more stuff on here. Really chuffed with comments, makes it even more worthwhile.
    Thanks, mariann and naila.

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