The Knife Angel brought tourists. A hundred thousand blades surrendered and turned into a sculpture. A black hole, sucking up everything nearby. Back home in Savannah everyone had guns. Here in Britain it was knives. Same problem, different tool.
Each visitor was an opportunity. Billy made the most of it. When he left Georgia to go to Hull York Medical School his family was ecstatic. Every American mom want’s to tell the book club ladies her son’s a doctor.
He met Sarah at orientation, first day. She liked his American accent. She said he reminded her of Johnny Depp.
Billy didn’t know what Sarah found appealing. He was awkward. Back in the states girls never liked him.
They started studying together. After two months he asked her out. Her blue eyes lit up and she smiled. He was shocked when she said yes. She was out of his league. They went for fish and chips because Billy didn’t know any better.
The first three months were the best of his life. He was happy.
In the spring Sarah got her wisdom teeth out. The doctor cut a prescription for Codeine and Sarah liked it. She lost weight. Her skin went translucent.
The opiates took hold. By fall Sarah was injecting heroin.
At first he fought. Then he joined. She needed him, they were in love and should be together.
Winter passed. Tests were failed. The University kicked them out in the spring. The day was warm and smelled like flowers.
They lived in a squat in an empty building on Midland Street. It was redbrick and charming. It had the original hardwood floors. Back home someone would have turned it into lofts and made money. Here it just disintegrated into nothing.
Billy’s parents thought he was still in school. They sent money. It wasn’t enough. Heroin is expensive. England is an island, import costs are through the roof.
Mom kept trying to visit and Billy kept finding excuses. She was getting suspicious, asking why he never had pictures on Facebook, but she still deposited cash. Mom let him get away with anything.
Billy knew he was lucky. Sarah’s parents died in a car wreck when she was sixteen. She had no one, except Billy. She needed him. He was alone on a strange continent and needed her.
Billy was only jamming people up to save money. He didn’t like it. He needed to pay for Sarah’s rehab. If he didn’t get her in-patient treatment soon she was going to kill herself. Billy controlled his addiction. Sarah couldn’t.
He’d already caught her on the corner twice, earning money her way. Billy loved Sarah. He couldn’t let her do that. Sarah promised she would stop. It broke Billy’s soul.
Billy knew it was wrong, but it was for the right reason. He didn’t have time to go back and finish Med school, get a good job, earn a salary. He needed serious money, fast, for her. All for Sarah.
Billy usually waited outside Admiral Casino. It was half way between The Deep aquarium and the Knife Angel over at Queens Gardens.
He went to see the Angel when it first came to town. The statue was weird. He felt something, but he wasn’t sure what. The heroin coursing through his veins muted it. Sarah was dope sick and couldn’t come.
The sun was rising and Billy was outside the Admiral. He noticed the jacket first. It was tan cashmere and fit perfectly, custom made. Billy checked the watch, Omega, and the shoes, oxblood calf-skin. Money for sure.
Billy fell in behind. No briefcase… The guy was important enough that someone else carried his things or he was not working. No one would be waiting for him.
The guy took a right on Princes Dock Street towards the Angel.
Billy could rob the guy by the roundabout and disappear into the alley-ways. The Omega made it worth the risk. Whatever sat in the wallet was a bonus. Billy never took cellphones. Cops could track digital things.
Billy ducked into the alleyway. It smelled liked puke and he saw a used needle. Fucking junkies. He changed to a hoody and sunglasses so the cameras couldn’t catch his face.
He caught up one street over. The guy’s dark hair was slick and he smelled like expensive cologne. He had one earphone in. Billy made out the sound of 80’s pop music… Sting.
“Hey,” Billy said. “Got a cigarette?”
The guy turned and stared. Disgust flashed. Billy looked like an addict… but a year ago he was a medical student. The guy should show some respect.
“Yea,” Billy said. “British?”
“Yes. Sorry, I don’t smoke.”
“No worries, maybe I could get some cash?”
The guy looked annoyed. He walked over. Billy didn’t see any cameras and no one was around.
The guy looked down and patted his hip pockets.
“Sorry. Only got plastic.”
Billy pulled the knife. The guy looked up and frowned.
“How about you give me the wallet, and the watch.”
Two hands went up in surrender.
“You can have whatever you want. No problems.”
Billy felt tired, slow. He hoped Sarah was ok. There was no dope at home. He needed to get them some.
“Stop talking. What size shoe you wear?”
“Give me the shoes.”
The guy frowned and kneeled. He started untying. He took off the right, then left, and stood.
Billy shifted the knife to his off hand. As the blade passed he felt pain in his nose. He saw a flash and heard a pop. A shoe fell. Blood flowed. Billy thought the red was pretty. The knife dropped.
The guy dove for the blade. Billy stomped. He crushed the guy’s hand. There was a snap and a scream.
The guy jerked his hand back. Billy reached down. A black silk sock smashed his face. A tooth fell into the nose-blood.
Billy leaned through the kick and got hold of the handle. He jabbed without looking. There was resistance, then it was smooth.
There was blood on Billy’s hand and shock on the guy’s face. He sat and looked at Billy. The guy looked confused. The smell of urine came and went.
Billy pulled the knife and ran. He didn’t know where to go, so he went to the Angel. He looked up, she was smiling at him. Billy decided the Angel was feminine.
He called Sarah. She picked up on the third ring.
“Babe, I just made a mistake.”
“I don’t give a shit about your fuck-ups Billy. I’m busy.”
“I told you to stop that. It’s my job to take care of you.”
“Well, you don’t fucking do it.”
Billy heard a man’s voice. Sarah hung up.
Billy sat at the base of the Angel. The needle was warm. It was six times his normal hit, and Fentanyl was strong. The darkness crept in.
He threw the knife on top of the Angel. He took a step back, he couldn’t see his blade. It blended well.
He sat down. It was peaceful.