‘So,’ you ask, ‘where did you get the idea for Harry from? I mean, some of those things he gets up to…’ You scrunch your eyes closed for a second as if trying to rid yourself of the memories. ‘Awful, just awful.’
Harry. He’s the killer in my book, Touch. He’s not particularly pleasant, I’ll give you that, but awful? I’m offended. I shake my head. ‘If you think Harry’s bad then you should meet some of my other friends,’ I say.
An uneasy look passes across your face, but I ignore it and begin tell you about Ted, a kind, charming and charismatic young man; Jeffrey, who likes to spend time arranging things in his flat; Dennis, who once had a bit of a problem with his drains; Harold, the odd one out; Fred, who’s got something missing in the IQ department, sure, but a salt-of-the-earth type nevertheless.
Shorn of their surnames my little coterie might appear innocent enough. They could be a bunch of guys who turn out down the park to play cricket on a Sunday afternoon or more likely that group of men who shuffle dominos in the corner of your local on Thursday evenings. There’s something about the decent, old-fashioned names – none of this Joshua, Ethan, Jake nonsense – which suggests dependability. As Fred packs away the dominos you’d go over, ask him what he’s drinking, get one in for him. Pint on the table in front of his big, rough, craftsmen’s hands, you’d ask how’s he placed to come round and sort out that dripping tap for you. Spare key’s under the flowerpot to the side of the back door, you’d say. Let yourself in any time.
Fred’s a builder, see? Surname of West.
On second thoughts maybe you should fix the tap yourself.