The Pool of Blood
He woke up that morning with a start. He pressed his eyes shut. Sun beams, coming in through his bedroom window, penetrated his pupils. He turned over, but unable to go back to sleep, sat up, with his feet on the fluffy carpet, trying to remember where his subconscious had taken him a few seconds before, but the more he strained to recall the fuzzier the image got. He picked up a gold ring from his bedside table and put it around his finger.
"Joseph, dear! Are you alright?" - a female voice shouted from a distance.
"I'm fine." - Joseph got up and walked to the kitchen. A strong smell of fried bacon filled his nostrils.
"I heard you screaming, dear."
"Oh, that was nothing. Just a bad dream. Good morning, darling." - he felt her smooth hair against his lips and turned to switch on the kettle. He sat at the table. In front of him the daily newspaper lay opened, on the sports section, next to it his reading glasses. He put on his glasses and held up the paper. As he did so he felt his hair being brushed back by a sudden breeze, and then a whooshing noise announced a harsh gust of wind. Not expecting the window to be open, he let one of the sections escape and land on the floor.
"The obituary section fell on the floor, dear." - the woman laid it back in front of him. He glanced at it before burying his nose back in the newspaper.
His wife carried to the table a white mug with a cartoon of a man kissing the pink cheek of a well developed woman, with the words "Joseph, a true gentleman" underneath. Absentmindedly, he raised the mug to touch his lips and felt the steam humidify his nose. He felt a tingly sensation on his tongue settled the coffee mug on the table. This was followed by a plate of brownish pink bacon next to a slice of freshly baked home bread with a gold-yolked egg. He began to chew through his food as he read the daily paper.
"Is it nice, dear?"
"Breakfast. Is it nice? Do you like it?"
"I suppose. Same as always. You use anything special?"
"Hm? Oh, no, dear. Like you said. Same as always."
Although he threw on the same old blue jeans, he put on his most expensive brown suit jacket. As much as his wife had begged him to buy the set, he had only bought the jacket, for "who needs a set when you can just wear the jacket with a nice pair of jeans, and still look classy!" He pecked his wife's forehead and left for work in his ford fiesta.
"Hey! Josey! / How's the missus?"
" / Joseph. She's just fine, thanks."
"Hey, sorry man. It's jus' last time we was at yours- Hey, Phil, d'you remember the last time we was at Josey's / here? Remember his wife?"
" / It's Joseph. / What about my wife?"
" / 'Course it is. Nothin' man. She jus' reminds me of that film- what is it- Step Forward Wives or summin'!"
"Right. Phil, which am I using today?"
"Today you're stuck with the double decker. Sorry, mate."
"It's all right. I'll see you later."
"Wait. Mate. You alright? You sound a bit-"
"Yeah. Fine. Thanks. Well, just a headache. Nothing to worry about. Besides the fact that now I'm late. I'm off."
"Alright then. See ya later, mate. Down the pub?"
"Hey, Josey! Josey!"
Driving the double decker bus through his usual route, he picked up many familiar people. There was Mrs. Chit-chat, an eighty year old lady who enjoyed talking as much as tea. For her own benefit, her youngest grandson lived seven blocks away from her house, as she pointed out to every old or new passenger that got on. There was Mr. Late-a-lot, who ran, round the corner, towards the stop everyday, at the last second. Other recurring passengers were nicknamed after a more common physical trait, such as Miss Winky or Mr. Rudolph. But the stop which he enjoyed the most was the one Miss Sweet Kissingale was at. She did not glance towards him, even as she was swiping her oyster card; her soft flowery perfume, pushed towards him by the breeze flowing through the open doors, brimmed his cabin.
As she swiped the card a beep emanated from the machine and a small red light appeared on the corner. She turned to face the cabin.
"Return ticket to Egham, please."
He froze. His eyes fixated on the top of her head as she tried to find change in her small red purse. She looked up, possibly noticing his lack of response. For the first time, he stared into her eyes. They were marine blue and accentuated by the light black line around it. Her eyebrows were two perfect black lines and her eyelashes, long and curved, had a slight hint of mascara. Her nose was petite and her lips were full and smooth, highlighted by her red lipstick.
"…Egham, please. Hello?"
"Yes. I'm sorry. Single?"- he readjusted his brown jacket and flashed her a crocked smile.
"I told you, no."
"Oh? Not, single?"
"Oh. You meant- Ticket. / Right. Yeah. Two pounds thirty. Yeah, fine, thanks. Don't forget your ticket. Heheh."
" / Yeah. Are you alright, sir? You look kinda pale. I got it. Thank you."
When he arrived at the pub, Phil was already sitting at a table with a loud crowd of guys in jeans and shirts. Joseph stumbled towards the bar, and trying to stand up straight by holding on to the counter, he asked for a pint of Foster's. He grabbed his drink and walked slowly to the table where Phil sat and settled on an empty wooden stool.
"Hey. Jo. I was just tellin' the guys about this morning. You and 'Johny man'."- a roaring laughter surrounded the table.- "You alright mate? Seriously, since morning you look kinda off."
"Yeah, fine. Honestly. Must just be coming down with something. Man, I hate John. The guy has no brain."
"Yeah, but the ladies sure seem to get on board with that. Overheard someone say he left work today with a couple of passengers."
"Did they specify the gender?"- another thundering guffaw. Joseph glanced at the trembling drinks on the table. Around him, the group divided itself into smaller groups. Each side of the table had a different conversation going on.
"You goin' home early today, mate?"
"Nah! Janice is probably gonna be in with her hen- friends. I need a few drinks to handle them."
"So, how was your day, lad?"- Lee was the guy everyone laughed at, but eventually confided in. He had been the one in the group to come up with nicknaming the recurring passengers.
"You won't believe it if I tell you!"
"Go on."- enticed Phil, moving in closer to hear Joseph over the explosions of laughter and arguments surrounding them.
"You know Mrs.-"
"It's Kissingale, mate!"
"Whatever. What happened this time, lad? Did she breathe?"
"Do you wanna hear it or not?
Joseph parked his car in his driveway. He staggered to his front door, unlocked it and went in. He felt queasy, and the sweet odour inhabiting the house did not help. A hissing sound came from the kitchen. Stumbling, he went in to see a fresh pot of water fuming at the cooker.
Since there was no response, he went upstairs, to check their bedroom, holding on to the banister. On his way to the bedroom, he noticed the bathroom door was ajar. He pushed it open, to reveal Janice laying in a pool of blood.