Watching The Satanists

Gerard McKeown

‘We bought that goat with our own money and can sacrifice it to our Lord Satan if we feel like it.’

Her screams land over the roof as I press the ignition. Something has died, or will die – a goat? Air clears through the pump, rattling the boiler like a busted engine. It’s been promising to start, then turning itself off all evening. This time the oil fires with a growl. I tighten the bleed nut with a flick of an Allen key, and sprint upstairs to my bedroom window.

My neighbour Hooka is stood in the middle of the street, shouting at the peelers as they drag her boyfriend Fat Rab outside, bare-chested, covered in blood and with a look plastered over his puffy face, like he doesn’t know what’s going on. He’s so pumped on adrenaline it takes four of them to wrestle him into the meat wagon. They’ve brought two. Maybe they’re expecting a riot; right now it’s them versus Hooka.

‘Why aren’t you arresting that druggy bastard next door instead of good honest Satanists?’ Hooka shouts, grabbing at the van they put Fat Rab in.

A peeler’s truncheon sends her sprawling. Her blonde hair spreads round her on the pavement, like a giant light bulb. Even though she’s shouting about me, I want to go and scrap with the peeler. Hooka’s the prettiest girl in the street, unless he’s put her teeth out. Lights come on in the houses opposite, but people keep their faces back from the windows.

The peelers trail out this skinny fucker in a Grim Reaper’s cloak. He’s screaming about how he’s a powerful warlock and they’d better release him. Another peeler walking behind slides a bloody knife into an evidence bag. Like that wasn’t freaky enough, two more peelers in biohazard suits carry out the hacked up goat. Maybe because it’s night, the blood looks to have dyed its wool black. The head hangs wonky, like the Satanists tried to slice it off. The goat’s dumped in the back of the other meat wagon (a peeler van, not an actual butcher’s one) and the peelers drive off.

Hooka lies sobbing on the tarmac. I want to go out to her, but she picks herself up and staggers back inside, spitting as she goes. I can’t see if she spat teeth. Hope she still has her front ones, or she won’t be able to say anything with an F in it.

The rest of the night I can’t sleep for Hooka crying through the wall. I want to shout something consoling, but I also want her to shut up. I can’t stop thinking about the goat, and what else her and Fat Rab have been up to. I knew they read Tarot and that sort of fluff, but not blood sacrifices. Hooka seemed lovely too. Anytime she’s out the back she calls over the fence for a chat. And all that time she thought I was a druggy scumbag (or bastard, as she put it). Why did she tell the peelers to arrest me? Am I the low-life on the street? It’s not like I smoke crack out on the kerb. I’ve never broken into any houses round here, or killed animals in mine.

As I sit in front of my empty fridge, my belly growls. Wish I’d a housemate to steal food off, at least until my dole comes in. Haven’t eaten all day. Part of me wishes the peelers had left the goat; satanic voodoo bollocks wouldn’t stop me eating it. Maybe I’ll go round to console Hooka. I’m sure she’d have tea and toast. In the end, I scrape the mould off a tomato and flavour it with salt. My stomach fizzes until morning, and I’ve no crack left to help me through it.

GERARD MCKEOWN is an Irish Writer Living in London. His work has been featured in The Moth, 3:AM, and Litro, among others. In 2017 he was shortlisted for The Bridport Prize.

Edited by Sophie Rowson