Two Little Killers—Glennis Cane

Girl killer.

She stood there, inhaling the smoke that was billowing like a dark cloud from the rooftop of her home. She was trying to suppress her pleasure. One of the police, a woman, saw her and took the grin as a nervous reaction to seeing the house destroyed. She was only a child, she thought.


The fire brigade were busy, she heard the sirens on her way back from the library. That’s why she had walked home so slowly she wanted to enjoy the moment.


There was an ambulance, the doors were shut and the two ambulance men smoked, talking to the police about the risk of the other smoke that would soon penetrate the nearby houses.


Jane waited to be spoken to.


A car pulled up and her mother got out. She looked scared and grabbed Jane holding so tight she yelled out.


"You’re hurting me."

"Sorry, Are you alright? Where’s your Grandma?"

I don’t know, lied the girl.


Mrs.Tanner, can we have a word? Said a policeman.

Mother moved away towards him.


Jane knew she would be dead that's what they were telling her Mum. So she just waited, shivering a bit as it would soon be dark and they had moved her across the road away from the fire. The fire seemed to be subsiding which made her feel disappointed. She wanted it gone, completely gone.


Before.

A girl of about ten unbuttons the collar of her school blouse and slips a piece of string with a key attached, over her head. It’s a large old fashioned thing. She lets herself in, dumps down her satchel, and goes into the kitchen. She picks up a box of extra-long matches and lights the gas oven leaving the oven door open she then stands with her back to it in an attempt to get warm.


It’s warmer outside than in the kitchen. It’s one of those wet summer days you get in Yorkshire that leave you feeling damp and chilled. There is no other heating in the kitchen.


The house is still and quiet. She is not alone in the house though but she wishes she was.


The house is the largest in the street, one of the largest in the village.

It’s also the most dilapidated. It’s brown. The girl who lives there calls it "brown house". She hates it, even at her young age she realises how dismal it is and it’s grinding her down.

The linoleum, the worn-out carpets, the faded curtains, and the dead moths on the hallway floor are all shades and tones of brown.

The sinks, the two lavatories, and the bath which were white have turned a sickly yellow-brown over the decades.


It’s not Thursday so she can relax a little and blot out the person upstairs for a short time.


Jane and her Mother both have fine mousy hair. It’s not brown or red.

Jane puts two pieces of stale bread under the grill taking care with the matches as she lights it. When it’s suitably toasted she smothers it in brown sauce and eats it.

She remembers how, when she was perhaps four going on five she looked at the ingredients of the sauce printed in small letters on the back of the bottle. It seemed nothing short of a miracle that it suddenly made sense. Words like vinegar, molasses, and sugar seemed to jump out at her for no reason. What was molasses? How could she read a word without knowing what it was?

Reading was something she could do well, like the person upstairs.


Thursday.

The same thing every week. Jane climbed the stairs and gently tapped on the door.

A reply was mumbled and she went in. This was what she hated.

The brownest of all the browns.

The paternal grandma, a thin nicotine stained hag.


She was only semi-dressed as usual. Once white knee-length bloomers now the colour of chewed-up chewing gum flap around her thin and heavily varicose veined legs. The toenails are long and some are broken. The feet, rather large with bunions from wearing high-heeled shoes. Over the top of the bloomers is a semi see through, coffee coloured full slip. A once luxurious garment, now badly stained and displaying burn holes.

Her hair is grey but the ends were dyed a violent red orangey colour.

The fingers jangle with heavy gold and jeweled rings. The fingers are long and nicotine stained but the nails are painted a pretty shade of coral.

She smells of cigarettes, whisky. and expensive perfume.


The room is a tip.


The floor is carpeted with matches.

There are dozens of cigarette lighters and cans of lighter fuel.

Empty and full bottles and then those in between of whiskey, gin, brandy, and exotic liquors. Bars of chocolate, apple cores and orange peel, cold cups of tea with cigarette ends stubbed out in the fine bone china saucers.

A revolting chamber pot, with cigarette, ends in it, floating in urine.

A dressing table covered in decades old makeup and perfume bottles

Chanel number five, Max Factor, and Lily of the Valley.

A wardrobe open showing evening gowns by Dior, day dresses. chiffon blouses and fine leather shoes. This lady was rich at some point in her life.


But now she reads and drinks and stares out of the window onto the overgrown, lovely garden.

The bag and the note are over there, her voice is still strong although husky with the abuse she administe