Virgil climbed the cold concrete steps, of the new flat he had just leased, namely number eight, Kenley Way, Birmingham, Alabama.
The last few weeks had not been his best and he was not in his regular state of mind.
Three weeks ago, Virgil had returned home, from the horrors of Korea. He was bright eyed and delirious with anticipation, as he packed his kit with his comrades, the evening before. They had been ecstatic when they heard that their last tour was over and that they were now able to go back to their home towns; back to their families; back to an ordinary life.
The journey home which was long had been made longer still, by the eager anticipation of the lonely soldiers. They told stories and japed and fooled. The battles were over. Never again would they have to look down on a corpse and recognise the face. Before long they would be home again and everything would be good again.
His fiancé met him off the boat and had hugged and kissed him in ostensible joy. They took a cab back to their home, just across the water from where he found himself now.
Things had gone well, for the first week, until Virgil started to notice strangities in his fiancé’s behaviour. She would go out at the oddest of times; hang up the phone when he entered the room; and took the dog out for some extremely long walks.
To Virgil, who had been trained in how to spot lies, this was not the hardest nut to crack. It was clear to him that his fiancé had met someone else while he was away fighting to save their freedom.
This angered him beyond belief and, when she had returned one night from one of her dog walking stories, he confronted her, causing her to relent and tell all. She admitted that she was having an affair with a man whom she had met a few months before but refused to reveal his identity. She concluded the conversation by breaking down crying.
Not being a man to watch a woman cry he grabbed his bag which he had pre-packed along with his coat and left, slamming the door behind him so hard that a picture came off its hook and slammed into the glass table, below.
After storming out, Virgil spent a long time with his own thoughts and in the company of a comforting Captain (straight-up, no ice). He thought long and hard about how he had first felt when he heard that he would be coming home and how he was feeling, right at this very minute.
It came to him, in a flash. He would hunt down this mystery man and express his disappointment, in no uncertain terms.
He had spent the next week, peering down the lenses of a pair of binoculars. Every move of his ex-fiancé was his to record. He followed her to work; to the gymn; and to whatever restaurant she happened to dine in. Everywhere she went, he went. He would find his mystery man if it were the last thing he did.
It seemed, however that she had expected this of him and so they had rested their little love trists, until they believed that they were safe. On the eve of his third week home, it happened. He was sitting in his car as she slipped out of the front door, wearing a long black coat and big hat, to match.
She climbed into a cab, which had pulled up moments before and they took off in persuit. Virgil made sure that the cabbie followed at a safe distance, ensuring that she couldn’t see them him behind her.
Before long, within five minutes as it occurred, they arrived at their destination, number ten, Kenley Way.
Once she had entered, he had crept up to the apartment door and peered through the keyhole. They were both there, in the hall, their arms wrapped tightly around each other and their lips adjoined, in the throes of wanton passion. As they released each other and the man’s face became clear, Virgil saw that he recognised him. His face was up on banners and advertising boards all around the city. This was the Radio Dj, Billy-Boy Williams.
Virgil turned, put his back up against the wall of the building and slowly slid down, until he was seated in the mud, below.
This was awful. Where did this Bastard, excuse the French, get off taking another man’s fiancé? How did he have the nerve? Virgil had been out in the hell that was Korea for more time than was good for him; he had seen the horrors of war and come back again; he had done all this… and some smug radio star thinks that he can saunter along and steal another man’s girl, while he’s away.
No. It shouldn’t be. Men like that should be made to pay. They should not be allowed to carry on. It was on that day that he had made the decision and that was why he was climbing the steps of number eight, today.
When he reached the top, he walked over to the door and opened it with his newly acquired key and entered the apartment. He walked straight into the sitting room and strode directly to the window, which faced the building to its side, dropping the bag he was carrying with him. It was a long thin bag, with different compartments and pockets.
Leaving the lights off, he looked through his small telescope at the building opposite him. From where he was, he could see straight into the bedroom of number ten. This Weasel was going to pay and nothing was going to stop him. This was where Virgil was most comfortable. He knelt down and opened the bag, pulling out a long nosed rifle, with a telescopic sight. He set it up, on the tripod, which he also pulled out of the bag and got into a good position, where he could see down the sights.
As he looked he saw the man himself, standing there, glass of whisky in one hand. He seemed to be staring at something on the wall. As Virgil watched, however, the man slowly raised the glass to his lips and turned away from what he had been so intently staring at. As he moved, Virgil saw that it had been a portrait of the Lord Christ, in all his Glory.
Not even the Jesus can help you now, Virgil said to himself, as he aimed his sights on the man, waiting for him to get into the right position. While he was waiting, the doorbell must have rung because the man had moved eagerly to the door, opening it quickly.
His ex-fiancé entered and they began to have a heated argument about something. She seemed to want to calm things down, as she kept trying to hold him, but every time she did, he moved away, crossing his arms high on his chest and shaking his head.
Well, thought Virgil, at least he’s got a conscience. No matter, he still has to pay for what he’s done. He waited patiently for her to leave and stared down the sights once more as he stood again at the portrait of Christ.
That’s right, pray, Virgil thought. It was to be his last opportunity. Nothing was to stop events, now. As Virgil peered down the sights and adjusted the scope, he pressed ever so slightly on the trigger, to get the biting point… breathed in… paused for half a second… and fired. As he did, the man took the opportunity to pray. As Virgil’s finger pulled the trigger, the man knelt down. The bullet grazed the top of the man’s head and went straight into the portrait.
Virgil was stunned. He suddenly remembered an old Army Pastor saying to him that Jesus Christ would take a bullet for him, if he would only bow down before him in prayer. Virgil had never given religion much thought but what he saw before him was a little too creepy even for him. He didn’t know if he was just losing his touch; or if it was a coincidence; or even if the Lord Christ had just spared the man’s life but one thing he did know was that he didn’t want to be around when the police arrived.
He quickly packed up his gear and left the apartments, before escaping Kenley Way and subsequently Alabama, to the sounds of the Police sirens, and fled to Mississippi. This was all something that he was going to have to put down to experience.
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