Saturday morning. Barry has woken up on the floor of his flat. The door is swinging open behind him and a piece of newspaper is caught in the angle between arm and chest. It whips up and plasters itself across his face as he sits up.
Clawing the paper away he sees that his hand is scored with deep scratches, blood clumped along them. The hand begins to throb as he looks. His face is throbbing, too, and when he gets to the bathroom mirror he sees that he is gouged and bruised. His lip’s coming up like a saveloy and his collar’s covered in blood.
Has he been mugged? No, no, it isn’t that. The woman screaming, screaming, his arm swinging something heavy, the thump of a body against a wall.
Leaning against the basin, bit by bit he remembers the pub, he remembers the car, he remembers the flat. He remembers the woman in the doorway with a plate in her hands, the cool feel of a glass of beer in his hand. He remembers the screaming. He remembers a great red slash down the side of her neck into the quivering flesh of her cleavage. Then nothing.
‘Oh mate,’ he says aloud, ‘Barry, mate, this is it. Rock fucking bottom, son.’
The outside door slams shut and he lurches forward against the basin, clutching the taps, squeezing his eyes shut. But no one walks up behind him. No hand is laid on his shoulder.
He reaches for the radio and gulps down two, three, four handfuls of water as he waits for the familiar music that announces the news. He holds his breath as the bland voice begins. Woman battered to death? Witness saw killer running from flat?
But the voice is blathering on about interest rates.