An old and haggered man; hunched, lank limbed with a disgusting disproportionate stomach that almost looked as though he were pregnant. He walked with a limp. For miles he would walk each day from one end of the village to the other. He had an allotment with chickens and a shack at the entrance to The Howl woods, he lived in a bungalow at the other end of the village toward the open cast.
Each morning around 0800 he would lurch his way down to the woods to tend his chickens. He spoke in grunts and growls barely lifting his head to anyone who would stop to say hello to him. He always wore the same battered flat cap which was pulled to his brow almost hiding his eyes. A large oversized ragged coat kept most of his body concealed except from the bottom of tweed trousers tucked into old work boots.
On the odd occasion he did stop when approached to see him would be an unforgettable experience; deep wrinkles carved his face, eyes pale and lifeless, a smile that seemed in-humanly long showing only bottom teeth his chin and jaw jutted forward, eyebrows that resembled an owl pointed halfway, scraggly hairs adorned his sideburns and wiry dry hair draped the back of his head.
Fast Eddy, as he was so ironically called was an ex soldier and widower, had no family or children that anyone knew of his life was a simple one from what we saw of it; tend the chickens, home for lunch, out with the rifle for rabbits on an afternoon, 2x Pints of bitter down the pub before heading home for tea, back over the woods to put the chickens to bed and the last walk home, almost idyllic to some people.
He was a silent and complacent man even when enjoying his couple of pints at the pub he would sit in the corner of “death row” the battered old couches that followed the pub wall which were always full of old men hence the name.
He would only speak to grunt as his own form of welcome unless someone had a question of his chickens or the results of his afternoons shooting where after grunting in acknowledgment of the conversation would spout the most eloquent of British language and once he had revealed his tale, he would doff his cap and go back to his solitary silence.
I don’t know what it was that fascinated me about Fast Eddy, but something about the way he carried himself even in his decrepit state there was an air of authority about him. I had decided I would offer to help him with his chickens; to lend a hand.
So early Saturday morning I spied him passing my house and took my chance to ask. I pulled on my duffel coat and my wellies and ran down to meet him.
“Mr Fast Eddy sir, would you like a hand this morning? With your chickens?“
He grunted acceptably, “Very well lad ‘tis a difficult labour mind you, and I am not the most conversatable of fellows.”
“I don’t mind. I’d just like to help.”
With that we walked through the village in silence and at Fast Eddy’s surprising limped pace. When we got to The Howl woods we spotted Eddy’s Allotment but it seemed the padlock on his fence had been broken and there was a foul smell in the air. The old man made a growl that meant for me to stay still while he went to check what had happened.
A terrifying anger filled wail was heard from behind the metal fencing and so I ran to investigate. As I pulled the fences apart, I was met with the sight of the old man on his knees and around him was a most awful scene. Chickens all of them at least 20 or so strewn in various places, body parts ripped, broken heaps of flesh and meat, some hanging from the fenced walls with ropes around their necks, some beheaded and left, so much blood and gore and poor Fast Eddy in pieces on the floor.
I ran to his aid and helped the old man to his feet.
“This is your doing boy! No body offers to help old Eddy and on the morning one does I am met with this horror. My only pleasure in life taken from me and you here to gloat at the pain and misery you have caused.”
He stared at me from beneath his flat cap and his eyes focussed with rage but yet he smiled that inhuman smirk of his almost snarling from his bottom teeth but unmoving in his stature.
“Tragedy this evening as a young boy the police have yet to name goes missing from the mining village of Riverburn. Search teams will be conducting extensive searches of the area and surrounding woodland throughout the night,” an ITV news reporter read.