So we dropped Phil off at the job, said we’d be back later and when we did he was covered in blood, gaunt and all, like, dazed and dreamy. Straight away he asked if we could go and I looked at Marty and Marty just nodded, all panicked, his eyes all white and staring in horror at Phil’s blood-stained clothes. The sound of the truck idling started to get to me and so I grabbed Phil and pulled him into the truck, blood smearing all over my white shirt as I did, and told Marty to step on the fucking accelerator. I dunno why, but I felt like I had to take control of whatever this situation was. I hadn’t a clue what the fuck had happened, but it wasn’t good and Phil needed to be out of sight, at least until things were sorted. Maybe it wasn’t something so bad; maybe it was just an accident and he was in shock. None of us knew so it’d be best not to freak out. We sped off and eventually, after an eerie and silent trip, I pulled into a quiet street next to some factories and we started questioning Phil about what happened. He said everything had gone well, the job was done, he said goodbye to the old lady and that was that. Me and Marty just gawked at one another, unable to fathom how he was saying what he was saying. We turned and stared at him from the front two seats of the pick up. I asked him, well why the fuck is there blood all over your uniform? My patience was running a little thin. Things weren’t right here and he wasn’t saying anything; for all we knew, we were transporting a fugitive. There was a short silence but, as smooth as silk, he looked down, slowly, looked back up, and said: Oh, this? And tipping his hat proceeded to explain to us that there had been a cut on his head, underneath his hat, all day, and that it had bled and bled without him noticing it until it was too late and it had stained his entire uniform. His words didn’t even seem rehearsed and scarier still, he didn’t seem to be lying—or at least, he didn’t realise he was. We kept saying, what? What? What? But he remained sickly calm and explained everything in real simple terms, like there still wasn’t anything to worry about. But mate, Marty screamed, there’s human fucking blood all over you and you’re telling us that it all came from a cut on your head that you didn’t notice until the end of the job? And the bastard just shook his head, over and over. We asked him to show us the cut and so he removed his hat and his hair was actually caked with blood and there did appear to be a deep wound there, but fuck, we both said, each questioning him in different words but with the same gist, basically asking him how he could have gone a whole day not noticing a gaping wound in his fuckin’ head, but he just rolled on with more stories, extremely tranquil, as though what he was saying had actually happened. At a complete loss, me and Marty both stopped our questioning and I leant against the dashboard, thinking to myself, and Marty with one arm out the window started fumbling for a cigarette and I asked for one immediately. We both smoked for a few minutes and then Phil asked for one and not being able to think of a reason why not Marty gave him one. Unsure of what to do next I told Phil he was going to show us the job, that we’d drive back, I’d find him a change of clothes and we’d go through exactly what he’d done that day, nothing excluded, and he of course just said yeah no worries, of course I’ll show you. Even weirder was that he didn’t question being questioned so much, so even if he believed his own words, which I really think he must have, he wasn’t aware that it was strange to be asked so many questions about the blood and where it came from. Christ, I kept thinking, what a fucking day. So off we drove, Marty smoking like a digger, me running my hand through my hair constantly, trying to figure out this weird mess, and of course Phil in the back, sitting there like a god damn child, staring out the windows and occasionally blinking very slowly. I shot Marty another look and he shot one back and we both thought the same thing: what has this fucker done? He’d been with us for years now, never done a bad job, never been in trouble, and now this. She was an old bat, too, so fuck knows why he’d have done her in—it was a straightforward job, like any other day. We arrived at the property and there were patches of blood that neither Marty nor me had noticed earlier, smudged across various sections of the pavement out front and on the door and even some footprints of it coming from the house. I know Marty felt as sick as I did and we both got comfort from just eyeing one another, knowing that we weren’t involved and that we at least didn’t need to worry about us going to jail. Phil stepped out immediately, almost mechanically, and walked around the back of the truck. Fuck, I thought. What if he does us in, too? What if the old woman’s still alive and we have to see some horrific scene that this apparent psychopath has created while we were off doing other jobs, minding our business. There seemed no friendly ending to this story. Marty stepped out after him and I followed, feeling cold and sick at the prospect of seeing something fucked up inside. We followed him into the property, at a safe distance, hoping this was all some weird mistake; hoping that maybe he’d just lost his mind and taken to a possum or something, but things got worse. Marty was just ahead of me and as he stepped into the front door I heard what sounded like him throwing up. It was him throwing up. He’d stepped aside and was puking all over the floor and at first I was watching this happen but then I saw it, strung up in front of the TV, with Phil standing next it peering out the window into the garden. He started to explain how he’d trimmed the hedges a little bit lower this time, because they’d grow faster in the springtime, and that the tree he’d chopped down was still in the yard because the chainsaw had broken and he couldn’t lug it out the front by himself, and he kept prattling on like this for what felt like ages, just staring out into the yard and suddenly I started to feel sick too, not only with the sight of the dangling clump of meat before me but the whole fucking thing, the whole scene and this psychopath talking like that, so god damn collected and confident as though nothing was there, nothing had happened, and so I just leant against a couch somehow knowing from his serenity that Phil wasn’t going to murder us too, being sure that he himself didn’t even know what he had done and for some insane reason I cannot even begin to explain, he wasn’t even comprehending what was swaying before him. God; it was actually as bad as it seemed it could be. He’d strung her up with line-trimmer wire but it, the thing hanging there, didn’t even look like a human; the light was on and the details were so clear and then sirens, all I heard was sirens and no one moved, we were all too sick, too stuck, or too insane to move or consider doing anything and it seemed like just a few seconds seconds before the door was being pounded on but still no one moved and Phil kept talking, talking, talking about the yard and the job he’d done and the seasons and even how the lady had offered him a cup of tea and BANG the door was down, they stormed in furiously and took all of us, Marty first, covered in vomit, me and finally Phil, who still didn’t seem to know what was happening. And the last thing, the very last thing I can see in my head, is that unholy scene: that woman, dangling, ruptured, severed, dripping, soaked, hanging from the ceiling of her own home, and a man staring up at her, blinking like an infant, talking about the grass, and the leaves, and the branches, talking slowly and monotonously like the words were falling from his mouth out onto the ground, rhythmic, pulsing, steady. Then they drove us away.