Old Benson lived alone next to a predator
JoJo ‘Jarhead’ Jackson planned his raid on his neighbour with care. A prolific thief, he had never been caught since he was fourteen years old. Now, aged twenty-two he was an old hand at this kind of raid. Old people were his exclusive target, the older the better. They went to bed early and slept soundly. Most were deaf and had poor eyesight. They couldn’t fight, they couldn’t run and were terrified of burglars. That, in Jarheads book, made them ideal targets.
Jarhead watched the old man through the knothole he’d pushed in the dividing fence, his forehead resting on the rough scratchy timber. The strong smell of creosote irritated his nostrils. He stifled a sneeze. Well, most of it anyway a small t’choo escaped him. Had Benson heard it? Probably not, the old sucker was eighty-one for god’s sake.
Jarhead had watched Benson sloshing on the foul-smelling liquid on for the whole of the last week. He’d offered to do it for him for fifty bucks, but Benson had politely refused. ‘It keeps me out of mischief’ the old man had joked, his leathery face wrinkling like an old boot. He winked, ‘at my age yer gotta keep outta mischief.’
That blocked that avenue of discovering the old man’s security arrangements so now he’d have to observe carefully and take notes. Just because his victims were elderly didn’t mean he could afford to be lax. He had never been caught because he always made meticulous plans. Observation and planning he told himself was the key to success.
Benson came home the same time every Wednesday evening after his visit to the Veterans’ club where he played five card stud poker with other vets. He had a reputation for always winning.
Wednesday night, 11 p.m. The security light had come on sun-bright as Benson approached his door illuminating all the way down the long gravel drive to the street. He looked around carefully before retrieving the heavy old key from under the thorny shrub. It looked like something you’d lock a castle with. Thrusting it in the door he turned it. The old mortice lock gave a complaining clank and the great oaken door creaked open.
Jarhead had seen enough and went back into his house. Up in his room, he assembled his tools. Ski mask, gloves, duct tape, air rifle, WD 40, screwdriver, short tyre lever and the hunting knife.
Next Wednesday morning, as dawn was breaking, Jarhead took the WD 40 and the loaded the air rifle, he then he shot a small squirt of the oil down filling the lead pellet. The friction of compressed air would cause the oil to explode when fired giving the pellet extra power. Enough to penetrate the security light’s glass and knock out the bulb. He stood back from his bedroom window so the Phutt of the gun wouldn’t carry far. His shot struck home boring a smooth hole. No spilt glass to give the game away. He smiled with cold satisfaction, the thrill of it always made his heart race.
Now he crept downstairs fearful of waking his parents who were sleeping off their night’s excesses of alcohol in the next room.
In his stockinged feet he walked up to Benson’s door and squirted WD40 into the lock then, careful not to use too much, he oiled the hinges. If he was caught now he could claim he was just doing the old boy a favour.
Benson would be out when he raided but Jar Head was afraid the noisy old door could alert Peter, Benson’s huge college football playing Grandson in the adjoining house. Jarhead would hate to mix it with him.
Jarhead watched the old man crunch his way slowly down the gravel and turn up the road to his club. Right, he thought, his diamond-sharp blue eyes narrowing. Half an hour until it’s fully dark then in I go. He touched the knife at his belt for reassurance.
Jarhead climbed the fence and crept along the wall to the front of Benson’s house. There he paused, listening for a full minute. All he heard was the faint buzz of traffic up on the main road and two cats screeching a few gardens away.
Carefully avoiding the thorns Jarhead teased the key from its hiding place. No security light came on and the door opened soundlessly. Great. He drew the knife as a precaution and entered the den. Crossing to a sideboard he was dazzled as the lights came on. Benson was sitting in a winged armchair a relaxed look on his face.
‘Hi Jarhead, do come in. Make yourself at home.’
The man stood and stared as total shock gripped him. ‘How? How the hell is this possible?’ He said, startled ‘I,…I saw you go out…..’
Benson smiled grimly ‘You sure did but then I looped around and came through the back door.’
‘How did you know Benson?’ he asked, removing his ski mask.
‘Observation, Jarhead, observation.’ He folded his hands in his lap. ‘You see, back in the Korean war, I was a sniper. Snipers are trained to be ultra-observant and I’ve been observing you for a while now. I thought this day would come and it has.’
Jarhead’s mouth was going up and down, but only spluttering sounds were emerging.
‘Every time there has been a burglary in the district, Jarhead, you spent money the next day, New trainers or new Jeans, watch, bike you name it, yet you don’t work.’
You offer to paint my fence, yet you’ve never done a day’s work in your life. My fence suddenly had a knot fall out of it when it wasn’t loose, I examined them all as I creosoted. Then you shot out the security light. Big mistake. You see, with this kind of light a buzzer sounds in the house when it’s activated. You should have shot out the Infra-red detector not the bulb. Oh, yeah, and thank you for oiling my lock I’ve been meaning to do it for ages. The old man eyed him, his grey eyes cold and hard. ‘You should be more observant Jarhead.’
The burglar was regaining his composure now and advanced on Benson, face contorted, knife to the fore ‘This ain’t over yet you old fart, one thing I am is ruthless Benson, I don’t mind killing old bastards like you.’
Benson’s relaxed hand now drew a snub-nosed .38 from between his thighs. He aimed at Jarhead’s chest. The man froze, dropped the knife and raised his hands. ‘Don’t shoot Benson, I surrender.’
‘You know, Jarhead,’ Benson said calmly ‘the trouble with a lot of ruthless bastards is that sometimes they run away with the idea that they are the only ruthless bastards.’
Jarhead looked nervous now, his dry mouth twitch spasmodically ‘You,…you gonna call the cops, Benson?’
‘No’ said Benson ‘put your mask back on.’
‘What for man, you know who I am.’
‘Put it on or I’ll blow your balls off,’ he lowered his aim. The click as he drew back the hammer sounded as loud as a church bell to Jarhead.
‘Ok, Ok, man, anything you say, Ok.’
When the mask was replaced Benson fired, shooting Jarhead in the groin and blowing his manhood out the back of his Jeans.
Jarhead fell shrieking in agony and horror clutching himself, trying desperately to stem the flow of blood as he rolled around, eyes bulging.
Jarhead’s screams gradually reduced to pain-racked sobs as tears of self-pity soaked his ski mask, ‘ya gotta call an ambulance man. Ya gotta. Please.’
‘You see, Jarhead, snipers have to be ruthless bastards, too. I was credited with 171 confirmed kills’ said Benson calmly ‘so I’m just gonna sit here quietly and enjoy watching you die. Your agonised death will, in some small way, make atonement for the untold misery you have selfishly inflicted on others.’
Jarhead pleaded some more but his life was ebbing as blood loss and shock took their toll.
When it was over Benson rang 911, affecting a quavering ‘old man’ voice, ‘help, oh please help me officer, A burglar in a ski mask armed with a big knife just broke in and attacked me. I shot him, officer, and I think he’s dead. Oh, dear, whatever am I to do?’