Reader #2: Amy Victoria Gray

During the run up to the launch of Hand Job Zine: An Anthology, we will be posting work from the readers that will be featured on the night to give you a taste of what you can expect on the 3rd of March. For more info click here and to join the facebook event follow this link.

Amy Victoria Gray

Factotal

(Orininally published by Open Pen)

I’m sitting in a cafe with alligator eyes and my makeup crusted and smeared in a Rimmel homage to Edvard Munch. Get the Run-Down Look. I’m sucking on a Bloody Mary and using it to wash down the acrid shard of Levonelle necessary after a night spent making questionable decisions with a questionable amount of decision making ability.
The box is garish and slashed with pantone and screams EMERGENCY CONTRACEPTIVE at anyone that walks too close. I’m upset at the pharmaceutical industry and their incapacity to provide me with a discreet pill to swallow from the lofty heights of my bar stool.
The pharmacist told me that I might feel nauseated and looked up my skirt as he charged me £26.75 and asked if I had a Boots Advantage card for that.
My hangover is militant. My brain is reverberating. There are hand prints around my throat. My arse is a patchwork quilt of mottled bruises and looks like a mouldy vegetable. I have an inexplicable bite mark on my wrist. Everything aches, including my sanity.
The nausea ebbs and flows, and I’m staring at the bleeps and flashes coming from my splintered iPhone screen and know that tonight, I’ll do it all again.

 

Plenty of Fish in the Sea

(Originally published by Paper and Ink zine)

Dear xx_ColourOutsideTheLInes_xx,

Unfortunately we have received complaints due to the graphic and disturbing nature of your profile photos. In light of this, we will be suspending your account until further notice.

Should you wish to continue using Tinder, please send us some more appropriate photos and we will be happy to upload these for you. Please note however, that we will be monitoring your account and that this will be your final warning.

Happy Swiping!

The Tinder Team x

 

Karla Homolka offered Paul Bernado her sister’s virginity as a wedding present. Rose West was happy for her husband Fred to murder their daughter. One photo of me posed happily next to a shallow grave in my favourite balaclava and everyone is up in arms.

Apparently online dating is where it’s at these days, in light of our fast-paced lives and hectic schedules. I must admit, crafting profiles has given me some respite from those busy evenings in watching Faces of Death clips and combing my guinea pigs.

 

It was my Mum’s idea. “You’ve got nothing to lose,” she said over the phone. It got me thinking – it would be nice to have someone to share life’s landmarks with; the trials, the achievements, the maniacal slayings. “I suppose it would be nice to have someone to share all this with,” I tell my Mum as I cradle the phone against my shoulder, making a grand sweeping gesture with my free hand across the living room that my Mum can’t see; taking in the free range guinea pigs, the meticulously arranged model helicopters and the glassy eyed corpse of Susan, 56, from Maidstone.

“Exactly!” my Mum croons on the other end of the line. “Just think how nice it would be to have a special someone in your life. And your Dad and I might finally get grandkids!”

I smile bashfully at that, and gaze over at Susan. Could it have been you, Susan? I ponder. No, Susan is a bit too chubby. And now she doesn’t have a pulse. “Anyway, Mum, I’m quite busy today, I’d better get on,” I recite into the phone. “Yes, yes, love; I’ll let you go,” my Mum replies, and I hang up the phone with a warm, hopeful feeling. This could be the start of the next chapter of my life, I think, as I start to decapitate Susan.

I always had this fantasy of meeting my own Mallory Knox, like Mickey in Natural Born Killers. If Myra Hindley and Ian Brady found each other, then there’s hope for everyone. I mean, there must be. To find someone else whose interests are so aligned with yours is pretty rare. Even more so if those interests include strangling innocent people with electrical wire.

 

I start with Tinder. It seems the most casual of the bunch and so the sensible way to ease into things. Also, if I’m totally honest, I would love to get laid. I do manage alright on my own, but there’s only so much fun you can have leering at a mottled corpse and wanking into a sock.

I create my profile and upload a few choice snaps:

  1. Aforementioned shallow grave shot, because women probably like outdoorsy guys
  2. An awkwardly cropped picture of my torso, because women probably want to check that I don’t have eight nipples or an EDL tattoo before they commit to anything
  3. A photo of myself with a baby that was briefly left unattended in a supermarket, because women can probably be easily hoodwinked by their ticking biological clocks.

I swipe right on everyone, until I run out of swipes. I then sit back and wait for some matches. Two days pass, and I have one match. She isn’t what I’d call a striking beauty, but she does have teeth, so I spend some time crafting a message that will impress her:

“Hey.”

“Hey.”

“Good weekend?”

“Not bad. You?”

“Not bad. What are your hobbies?”

“How tall are you?”

“I’m 5’9. I have some quite singular hobbies I suppose – I’m particularly interested in medieval torture and pentobarbital. How about you? Do you like archery?”

“I only go out with guys that are over 6’0.”

“Well, luckily for you, I can make up for height in personality!”

………………..

………………..

“Hello?!”

The fucking bitch unmatched me.

 

I’m stalking a girl in the street and I overhear her talking about a new dating app called Happn. The premise is based around people that you cross paths with day to day, pinging off your phone’s GPS and apparently involves less ‘admin.’ I’ve always hated admin.

I download it from the app store and continue on with my life. I forget all about it to be honest, until my phone buzzes when I’m midway through burying the body of a 36 year old schoolteacher on Wanstead Flats. A girl has sent me a ‘Charm’. Intrigued, I ‘charm’ her back, one hand clutching said 36 year old schoolteacher’s lacerated ankle.

She messages me almost immediately. “Hi Dave! What are you doing up so late around the Flats?! *wink smile emoticon*”

Fuck. According to the app’s location estimator, she’s less than 250m away from me. It says that we’re crossing paths NOW. In a blind panic, I smash my phone on the ground and drag my schoolteacher behind a bush. Shit, shit, shit. Peering out into the darkness, I can’t see anybody. I wait in the gloom with the nameless dead schoolteacher for what feels like hours, steadily contracting cramp in my haunches and cursing the flippant world of online dating. I decide then and there that Happn is not the dating app for me.

 

I eventually settle on Plenty of Fish. It allows me to elaborate on some of my eccentricities and there are enough weird and predatory men on there that I seem to blend right in. When prompted to come up with my tagline, I type “Not an Axe Murderer!!!” which is true; I have never once murdered someone with an axe.

There is a tepid air of desperation among many of the women I begin to exchange messages with. I have to Google the definition of a Mumford and Son, and most of the interactions cut off sharply when I mention chloroform. But Nicole seems different. Nicole seems like she could actually be my Mallory Knox. She too enjoyed LaVey’s Satanic Bible and seems to possess the same chilling disregard for human life that I do. I feel that there could really be something here.

Nicole and I are pen pals for about three weeks. We talk about everything, from gallows knots to pagan rituals. No subject is off limits. She keeps referring to my tastes as “hot” and telling me that I’m “such a Christian Grey.” I try to read the book that she’s referring to but it’s a colossal pile of shit, so I give up and read about Christian Grey on the Internet instead. Apparently he is rich, good looking and powerful and likes bullwhips. I’m flattered by the comparison. I’m so excited to meet her, and I can’t wait to finally be honest with someone that I don’t choke to death afterwards.

 

On our first date, we go to a pub and drink beer. This is it. I tell her everything. “So…” There is an awkward, heavy silence as Nicole turns over what I’ve just said. “You’ve actually killed people?” she finally asks.

“Well, yes!” I reply somewhat impatiently. “I thought I’d been quite open about that!”

Nicole plays with a little bit of skin next to her fingernail. “I didn’t realise that you were being serious, I thought it was all, you know, a bit of a game.” She looks sheepish. “I feel like an idiot, now,” she finishes lamely.

“Oh no, don’t be silly, it’s not your fault. Maybe it was the way I worded it, you know, all the saucy euphemisms and that.”

She nods, and looks a bit sullen. “So, you’re a serial killer, then?” she asks.

I give a humble little shrug, and say, “yep, that’s me! Serial monogamist too, ha ha…”

She smiles at that. “Look Dave, I think you’re a really nice guy. I’ve really enjoyed your company…” We catch each other’s eye, and I suddenly feel quite emotional and end up looking down at my knees and screwing my face up in a distraught gurn.

“I’m sorry, Dave. I’d really like to be friends. Listen, it’s not you, it’s me – I’m just not ready for that sort of commitment, you know, a lifetime of secrets, never giving each other up to the law, that kind of thing. I was thinking more renting a flat together and buying a dog.”

I nod too many times and too quickly and a couple of errant tears fly out. “Yes, yes, of course, of course, I totally get it,” I mumble.

She stands up, and rubs me on the shoulder. I still can’t look up at her. “You’ll find someone, Dave. There’s someone out there for you.”

 

She leaves, and I spend the night at home crying and hugging my guinea pigs. Maybe I should give it up, I think. Love is about compromise. Maybe if I didn’t murder people then someone would love me.

And then I think ‘fuck that,’ and I go out and murder someone and have a bloody brilliant time. It occurs to me, as I’m viciously throttling the life out of Debbie, a 41 year old secretary from Chiswick; that in this world of brief, faceless interaction – sharing filtered parts of ourselves through carefully controlled online forums and reserving our real selves for no one – taking someone’s life away with my own bare hands is the most connected to another human being that I’ve ever felt.

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