The Body Shop

“Erm?” Mr McRood interrupted. “Erm? Is that all you can say? Well it’s not bloody good enough”.

Mr McRood proceeded to phone in every day since, becoming ruder and more personal with his insults each time. Apparently his order was very special and needed to be brought in from Cuba and there had been delay’s at Customs which was why it was taking so long. Every day Henry would brace himself for the verbal onslaught from the irate old git and explain again and again that it was out of his hands and there was nothing he could do. Despite his explanations Mr McRood continued to hold Henry personally responsible for the order and the delays and even the political situation in the communist country which had led the to the trade restrictions that were causing the whole problem in the first place!

At last the order arrived; a thick brown package about a meter in length. It wasn’t too heavy and the manager said he should probably take it straight round to Mr McRood’s house as an example of good customer service. Henry felt his stomach drop a few feet at the instruction. This certainly wasn’t how Henry would deal with rude customers when he was running his own business. But, he had to please his boss and so he hauled the parcel into the back of the company van and drove round to Mr McRood’s house.

Although it wasn’t heavy, the parcel was a long awkward shape to carry for any length of time. Henry struggled down the overgrown garden path to Mr McRood’s rickety paint-chipped front door. The small bungalow looked dilapidated and reminded him of the house from the Wizard of Oz after it had landed in that magical land. Henry secretly loved that film but any hint of magic or singing was dispelled by the sense of neglect that hung in the air. A large collection of unopened milk bottles were lined up by the front door giving Henry the sense that no one had set foot outside the door for several days. The doorstep was also littered with a pile of Daily Mail Newspapers and flyers for Indian takeaway’s and pizza delivery companies. The whole bungalow looked as run down, haggard and miserable as Mr McRood sounded on the phone.

Taking a deep breath he rang the bell hoping Mr McRood wouldn’t be in so he could just leave the parcel by the door and go without having to face the miserable old whinger. But as always, he wasn’t that lucky. Henry heard some creaking and groaning of floorboards. Through the frosted glass of the door he could see a shape lumbering down the hallway. As the shape loomed closer Henry started to feel very uneasy about this visit. Some primal instinct was setting off an alarm bell at the back of his mind and he felt an urge to leave the parcel on the step and bolt. He contemplated it for a moment but then the door rattled and the moment was lost. From inside someone struggled to undo a chain before the door slowly swung open on creaking hinges. Henry opened his mouth to introduce himself but the words died in his throat as he looked upon the terrible sight that stood in the doorway. Henry recoiled as the image before him instantly burned into his memory so he would always see it every time he closed his eyes. All he could do was gasp shock like a fish out of water, drowning in air as he stared at the thing before him. The grey sallow face of Mr McRood leered down at him through milky eyes sunk deep into over-sized eye sockets. Thin wispy white hair curled down from the sore encrusted scalp and a lipless mouth formed a leering rictus grin as the thing that was Mr McRood swayed gently in the doorway leaning on a pair of rusted crutches.

Mr McRood was dead!





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