Tommy Winnings sat by the real wood fire. His blunt, square-tipped fingers picked at the richly woven shawl whilst underneath, his legs, wasted and numb were immune to its soft warmth.
Tommy was vexed. Odd numbers weren’t lucky for him. It preyed on his mind that, perhaps, he’d left his illustrious career ‘unbalanced.’ Now, there was little time left to rectify the problem, but he’d be damned, if he’d die leaving irregularity behind.
His thoughts were interrupted when Nurse Carla walked in.
“Hi there, Tommy Tuppence!”
Tommy grinned, rheumy eyes twinkling appreciatively as she sashayed over, ample hips swaying to a silent rhythm. She leaned over to kiss his down covered head.
“You been behaving yourself?”
Tommy grinned. “Not in the least. I’ve been to the pub, made the acquaintance of some loose women and then had a drug-induced orgy.”
Carla waggled a finger. “Tut, tut, tut …and all before teatime.”
They laughed and Carla crouched beside his wheelchair. “I’ve got something for you.”
Tommy’s heart skipped a beat. He hoped it was the thing he’d asked for.
She winked. “I went up to the attic and struggled over those damn suitcases, and…”
She nipped into the hall, returning seconds later with a large metal box.
Tommy’s eyes fastened on the container, his tongue rasping his lips. “Thank you so much, Carla”
She ruffled his hair as she left.
As her footsteps faded, Tommy placing his hands on the cold steel lid, released a sigh before pulling the combination lock toward him and turning the dial to each even number in turn.
Opening it, he looked inside. His eyes sparkled as he lifted out a velvet parcel and, like a mother with her baby, nuzzled it against his cheek, before placing it gently in his lap. Flushed, he upended the box and a tumble of clear plastic bags, each containing a single object, tipped onto the table. He counted each one.
“Fuck, Twenty- nine. I don’t do Odd numbers.”
Frowning, he thought for a moment, before releasing a grating, gleeful, gurgle. Satisfied, he rooted amongst the bags and chose one containing a pair of pearl drop earrings. He tipped them onto his palm and, with his index finger, stroked each one carefully. Quivering, he raised them to his nose and inhaled the barely lingering scent.
“Aaaa! Small, brunette, generous tits, annoying laugh, Paris, 1983”
He replaced them in the box and picked up another bag. This one held a Cartier watch, encrusted with tiny diamonds. Tapping the clock face, he watched mesmerised as the gems twinkled in the light. He raised it to his lips and kissed along the inner strap, savouring the taste of sweet, salty, sweat.
“Tall, dark skin, birthmark on right buttock, extremely well maintained pelvic floor, Vienna, 1973”
He repeated this with each of his twenty-nine treasures, before returning to the velvet package in his lap. Salivating freely, pupils dilated, he peeled away the soft fabric.
"My old friend. I’d almost forgotten how remarkably beautiful you are.”
Shuddering deep in his chest, he clasped the knife shaft and lifted it to his mouth. Extending his moist tongue, he licked along the stiletto’s length, tasting tangy blood, imagining soft, pliable flesh and feeling corresponding steel between his wasted legs.
Later, when he heard Carla’s muted humming, he covered the box and thrust the knife under his blanket.
In she walked, hips teasing, hair bouncing, smile seducing.
“Tea’s up, Tommy.”
He smiled. “I could do with something to sate my appetite.”
She leaned over and kissed his head. Before she could move away, he reached up and grabbed her hair. One quick flick of the wrist had her at the right angle. Unhesitatingly, he raised his other hand and steel glittering, ran the blade across her exposed throat.
Her eyes widened as Tommy tugged the silver comb from her hair and let her fall to the floor. He held it to his lips before placing it reverently beside his other treasures.
“Thirty. An even number. - Tall, sassy, funny, horse riding hips, Leeds 2016.”
With a double handed thrust, he plunged the knife into his groin. Slumping in his chair …something caught his eye… a silver locket inside a small clear bag, nestled under the table.
“Petite, Asian, butterfly tattoo, extremely long tongue” Germany, 1999… Thirty- bloody -one.”