Jimmy Sees Ursa Major
Jimmy Messenger was stabbed and beaten on his way home from the Dog and Duck on a Tuesday evening in November, around about half past nine.
He had drunk a couple of pints of Boddington’s Bitter and a whisky with Jenny, who both worked at the pub and spent most of her free time there too. She was fond of Jimmy. He had no other friends, lived alone in a bedsit, but was unfailingly pleasant to all he met. “Salt of the earth” was the most often used phrase to describe him. He had a cleft palate.
Jimmy’s sister, Agnes, had died earlier in the year. She left him a couple of hundred pounds in her will, all of which he spent in the Dog and Duck, treating people to drinks which they should have refused, knowing how poor he was.
Each night the landlord, Percy Sixsmith, would sell a football card which was divided into thirty squares, each square containing the name of a football team. Punters could buy a square on the card for a pound and when all the squares had been sold, Percy would peel off the sticky tape covering the name of the winning football team, and whoever had that team, won a cash prize of 20 pounds. The rest of the money, according to Percy, went to a charity called The Needy Retired Licensed Victuallers Asscn. Customers suspected the charity was really Percy Sixsmith by another name. It was.
Jimmy won the twenty pounds on the evening he was killed. It was a piece of good fortune that condemned him to death because two scrote brothers called Nidge and Wammer Robbo were drinking in the pub at the time and they wanted his winnings. Wammer, the elder scrote, had just turned 19 and had no money for cigarettes. Simple as that.
When Jimmy said goodnight to everyone in the Tap Room, the Robbo brothers followed him outside, dragged him down the first alleyway they came to and beat and stabbed him before taking his cash. Jimmy didn’t struggle. He was only 5 feet 3 inches in his stocking feet, thin as a rake and was well into his 77th year. The most aggressive thing he did was grunt as Nidge stabbed him in the chest.
He knew the Robbos, knew what they were going to do to him when they dragged him into the alleyway. He heard them running away as the life seeped out of him onto the cobblestones of Back Acacia Street. The buzzing sound of approaching death was filling his ears. A welcome lightheadedness was replacing the pain the Robbos had dished out when Jenny discovered him. She kneeled down at his side, ruining her jeans with his blood, all concern and horror, and touched him to see if he was still alive. He was, just. He was even able to speak, just.
As he looked up at the thin line of sky visible between the buildings Jimmy said, “Ursa Major will always be my friend.”
Jenny looked up to see the constellation but was caught in the flashlights of others coming to help.
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Charlie Taylor is the Associate Editor of Mulberry Fork Review. He lives and writes from the south west of England and holds a PhD from Lancaster University. For more information about where to find Charlie’s work, both online and in print, visit him https://charlietaylorblog.wordpress.com/about/.