(WARNING: contains graphic violence)
This is a fantasy based on my rejections by Private Eye magazine. It contains some bloody violence, so if you are of a nervous disposition, do not read any further. The foul language from the original version has been removed.
‘I know I shouldn’t be doing this,’ I said to the frightened man tied to a chair. ‘But your physical pain will be much shorter-lived than the psychological traumas you have inflicted on me.’ Of course, he couldn’t talk or scream with the parcel tape over his mouth. His eyes expanded under a sweaty brow as he watched the scalpel approach his naked chest.
So, this was the man. This was the thwarter of my one life’s ambition. This was the one single cause of my screwed-up marriage, my stinking poverty and my need for therapy. This was the editor of Snout, the one remaining satirical magazine in country.
‘Well, Mr Langham,’ I spoke in a deliberately civilised manner. ‘This won’t take long.’ I pressed the ink-dipped tip of the blade into the flesh of his right nipple.
‘Hmmmuuuhhh!’ was all he could manage in way of a scream. The pompous git was struggling so much that he would have fallen over if the chair had not been jammed between a filing cabinet and a photocopier.
‘Stop, jerking around, Mr Langham, you might hurt yourself.’ I drew a vertical line down his right side. The mixture of blood and ink on his skin made a very satisfying medium. If only he would stop bloody flinching and banging his stupid head on the wall.
‘Now,’ I continued, ‘This is going to be one of my cartoons that you rejected. I wonder if you’ll remember it?’ I worked quickly and deftly with the blade, ignoring his muffled sounds of suffering. Most of the time I sliced conventionally, while sometimes I had to drag the blade sideways to get a thicker line. My left hand on his shoulder kept him firmly pinned to the wall while I drew, pausing only to dip the knife in the ink.
‘I’m drawing it upside down so you can see it.’
He seemed to be resisting less as I finished, which allowed me to slash in a few areas of cross-hatching I had earlier been resigned to omitting on account of his wriggling and squirming. The bastard was breathing heavily and his eyes were half-closed with his chin slumped forward onto his chest.
‘There. Now, nod or shake your head, Mr Langham. Can you see the cartoon?’
The drawing was zig-zagged by thin streaks of blood from each line drawn, but this added an unusual stylistic quality which I found quite fascinating.
‘Good. Do you remember it?’ He shook his head.
‘Oh, come on, now. Can’t you read the lettering?’ I waved the inky, bloody scalpel under his nose. ‘Maybe I should underline it.’ He shook his head vigorously.
‘You should remember it. You rejected it.’
He nodded resignedly.
‘But not only that. You got one of your pals to copy it in their inferior style and printed that, instead.’
His eyes, which were nearly shut, now, just stared blankly downwards at the cartoon on his chest.
‘And this wasn’t the first time. Oh no. Your elite circle of cronies dominated Snout. Mostly from Oxford. If they couldn’t come up with something, you passed on other people’s ideas, like mine, for them to bleeding draw up.’
His eyelids flickered and he rolled his head in my direction.
‘And you know this isn’t the first time you’ve done this to me. Do you remember the other eleven ideas you plagiarised? I bet you don’t, what with prancing about on so-called comedy television shows and getting plastered at some meeja haunt with a bunch of slimy sycophants.’
The first light of dawn was permeating through the office window shutters. Time to vanish. After rummaging in my bag for a second I withdrew a long, shiny bayonet. ‘Oh dear,’ I chuckled, ‘I forgot to sign it.’
Mr Langham’s eyes opened wide one last time just before I drove the steel through to the wall behind him.
The police, it has to be said, were quite civil. It’s not every madman that has the courtesy to give themselves up immediately. I’m awaiting my trial. Pleading manslaughter due to diminished responsibility. In the meantime, I’ve become quite a celeb. My solicitor says that all the newspapers and TV stations want to find out about me. Unusual for any cartoonist, but my cartoon has appeared, in all its gory glory, in almost every newspaper throughout the Western world.