I was sitting on a bench at the end of the main shopping precinct when I decided to do it. Some ideas had been knocking around in my head for a while, but it was there that they really took shape. It’s amazing how easily the biggest idea can come from nothing. There I was, just sitting watching the shoppers go by, and I’d just had an idea that would change my life, and change this town forever. I felt sorry for all these people now. All these fucking people who walk past me every day, ignoring me, looking through me, not even knowing I fucking exist. Well soon they’ll know who I am. Nobody in this fucking town, in this fucking country, will ever forget me.
I get on the bus and tell the driver where I'm going. He looks straight ahead and says “Two-eighty”. No “please”. No “sir”. He drops the change into the little gutter thing. Just drops it for me to pick up myself. He can’t just hand it to me, he has to throw it down. Then he starts pulling away while I’m still picking the pennies up and I nearly fall over. I look at him and say “Hang on” but he doesn’t even turn his head. He just keeps going and I have to stagger clumsily to my seat. Two kids laugh at me struggling. I shoot them a nasty look. They just laugh even more. When the bus stops everyone just barges past each other trying to get off first. I see the kids who laughed at me push past an old woman as she tries to get off. Little fuckers. Little cunts.
I step off the bus and look around. It’s too early for lunch yet so I decide to have a look round the shops. Just for something to do. I go into the big newsagents and have a look at the magazines. Sometimes I get lost in time flicking through those mags. I pick one up and before I know it I’ve read the entire thing, cover to cover. I’m surprised they don’t tell me to buy something or get out. Or tell me that this isn’t a bloody library. I ask the fella behind the counter if the latest Radio Times is out yet. “If it’s out it’s on the shelf,” is all he says. Doesn’t even look up from his own magazine. I stand there for a while to see if he’ll say anything else. If he’ll look up. He does neither, just keeps flicking over the pages of the mag he’s reading. Bastard. I walk out.
I go to the cafe. I order myself a full English. Like I do every time I come in here, which is every other day. You’d think I wouldn’t have to ask by now. A few months back I said “The usual please, love” to the girl in there. Like you see people do on the telly and stuff. She looked at me like she’d never seen me before. Like I’d said something horrible to her. Fucking jumped up little tart. She works in a fucking greasy spoon and she thinks she can treat me like that. Like I don’t matter. Like I’m nothing.
I walk to the supermarket for a few bits and pieces. Some bloke in the queue in front of me turns round and catches my eye. He looks away then quickly back again as though he recognises me, as though he’s about to say something. But he doesn’t. He just turns back and carries on queuing. A woman who works in the shop is rushing about getting another girl to open another till. She asks if anyone wants to come across to the other till and the fella who turned round to and looked at me and the woman in front of him go over. I stay where I am. My queue isn’t that long now they’ve moved. “Sir. Would you like to come across please? Sir?” It takes me a few seconds to realise the woman who was rushing about is talking to me. “I’m OK,” I say to her. “We need to get the queues down, sir, would you mind coming across please?” I go across like she wants me to. I’m in no rush but it seems to mean a lot to her. Can’t have her fucking queues being too long, can we? The fucking world would end if she didn’t get her queues down. Fucking miserable cow.
I get back on the bus to go home. It’s a different driver to before, but it’s the same treatment. Eyes forward, change chucked into the little gutter, nearly making me fall over by pulling away too quick. Fucking bus drivers. They’re all the same.
I sit down to watch the telly while I eat my tea. The local news is on. The mayor is being interviewed at some public event. I’ve never seen him before. He’s quite friendly, calling the reporter his first name. He makes a bit of a joke. Not a joke. A pun, that’s it. The interviewer laughs. I wonder if he would have laughed it he wasn’t on camera. If it wasn’t someone important like the mayor telling it. I wonder what he would have done if it had been me. If he would have laughed then. If he would have been acting all matey if the cameras were off. What would he do if I just went up to him and told him a joke, would he laugh with me? Would he fuck! He’d just think I was fucking nuts. Why? Why should the mayor be more important than me? Just because some people voted for him and he wears some stupid fucking medallion round his neck. He still pisses and shits the same as me. The news report cuts to the mayor cutting a ribbon at some new building. Looks like some office block or something. Everyone is clapping and cheering.
The next time I go into town it’s the same. Same miserable bus driver trying to make me fall over. Same snidey fucking tart in the greasy spoon. I try to make a bit of conversation with her, wondering if she’ll be more receptive this time. Fat fucking chance. The little bitch doesn’t even pretend to be interested in what I’ve got to say. Maybe if I jammed this fucking fork into her eye she’d be interested. She’d fucking notice me then.
I go to the newsagents again. I flick through the mags as usual. The same fella is behind the counter, leaning on it while he reads a magazine. I ask him when the next copy of a magazine is out. “Next Thursday,” he says, not looking up for a second. “Look at me,” I say, dead quietly. He either doesn’t hear or doesn’t listen. “Look at me,” I say a bit louder. This time he slowly looks up. He waits for me to do something. I must have a really angry face on because he looks a bit scared, like he thinks I’m going to hit him or something. I like the feeling that gives me. I just look at him for a few seconds then I walk out. It’s pissing down outside now. Everyone is rushing with their heads down, hoods or brollies pulled down to shield them from the wind and the rain. I walk along the main strip of the precinct. I have to keep moving out of the way of people who are looking down at the ground. It seems like everyone in the town is walking towards me. Like I’m the only one walking this way. Swimming against the tide. I’m sick of moving. Fuck them. Let them move for me. I walk in a straight line. People knock shoulders with me. Some say sorry, but most just keep going, not looking up for a second. I start moving so that I’m barging into people now. Doing it deliberately. I’m nearly knocking some of them over. Every time I hit someone, I don’t say sorry, I say “Look at me”. But they don’t. I barge into a few more people then I start getting out of breath from walking too hard, so I sit down on the bench. I sit and I watch everyone walking, heads down, stepping in puddles, knocking into each other, and it’s right there, right then that I get the idea. Sitting on that bench in the pissing down rain it comes to me. Clear as day.
It takes weeks of looking through the local papers, looking online down at the library and watching the local news endlessly. Then I see my chance. My opening. There's no more planning needed. In fact there wasn’t that much for me to do at all. It’s amazing really. The biggest thing I will ever do with my life. The biggest thing that will ever have happened in this town. And it took so little.
On the morning I do everything I always do. I get the bus into town, but this time I’ve got the exact change ready. “Town,” I say. No please, no thank you. I chuck the money down and walk to the back of the bus. I’m in my seat before he pulls away. I go into the newsagents. I pick up a magazine and put it under my jacket. I walk out with it without the fella even knowing I’ve been in there. I go into the cafe and order my full English. Of course she doesn’t look at me. But very soon she will realise she has just lived the most significant moment of her life. I eat my breakfast and read my stolen magazine. I look through the window and see the crowds already gathering. I don’t rush. I wipe up the egg and bean juice with the last of my toast and drink the last of my tea. I leave the magazine on the table and walk outside.
I join the crowd and push my way to the front with one arm,
the other hand gripping the knife handle tightly in my pocket.
I’m at the front now, up against the barrier. I look down the
road and can see the float. All the people on it are dressed in
funny costumes, and the mayor is out in front, but coming over
to the barrier shaking hands and high-fiving. Fucking man of
the people. I try to put a fake smile on as I pull my hand halfway
out my pocket. The mayor is right by me now. The music is
deafening. It doesn’t need to be this loud. He’s right there now,
right in front of me. He looks at me, right fucking at me, and he
thanks me for coming out, and he’s passing by. My chance is
passing me by, too. But before it’s too late I lash out at him with
the knife, but I don’t do it like I mean to. It’s not so much a stab,
more of a slash, right across his neck. He just looks confused at
first, like he doesn’t know what’s happened. Then his hand goes
up to his neck and grabs his throat, and he starts to grit his
teeth, and looks back to me. The blood is all coming through his
fingers, so I know I must have done some damage. Someone screams in the crowd next to me, but she probably can’t be heard over the sound of that bloody music. But then someone else screams, and another as they realise what’s happened. A copper is running over towards the mayor, pressing his hand against the mayor’s neck, and another one starts running over but trips. I turn round and the crowd all back away from me as they see the knife. I start to run but one man steps in front of me to try and stop me. I stab out at him with the knife and it sticks in his belly. Both his hands go towards the knife and I pull it out and I run past him and down the alleyway. I run round the corner to where the taxis all wait and jump into one. I keep the knife shoved into my pocket so the driver can’t see any blood or anything and I tell him where I’m going. He tells me the parade has blocked up all the roads in the centre of town so he’ll take a really long route round to avoid it all. When we get to my house I give him a tenner with my clean hand and run into the house.
I switch the telly on and sit on the couch. I flick through a few channels till I find one with the news on. I watch as the newsreader is talking about something in another country, but they interrupt that and start talking about me. Well, they don’t know they’re talking about me yet, they just call it an “incident” where the mayor has been stabbed. They say they will bring us more as they have it and go back to the other story so I run through some more channels. Eventually I find one with more news about me. This news programme seems to know more. They’ve already got a reporter there talking to the camera. I can see the cafe behind her as she tells us that the mayor bled to death before an ambulance could even get to him. The other man who got stabbed at the scene is critical in hospital. I switch the telly off and I try and steady my breathing. My breathing slows and I lean back on the sofa. I pick up the pieces of paper I printed off at the library, all the stuff about John Bellingham, who killed Spencer Perceval. I get blood all over the pages so I can’t read it, but I’ve memorised most of the facts about him by now. Him and Sam Byck. And John Hinkley Jr. They’re not really famous names but they were a long time ago. Long before 24 hour news and the internet and all that, so I know I will be remembered much better. Nobody will forget me now. I hardly slept last night, and I feel myself nodding off. I wake up an hour later. I pick up the phone and make the call, then I leave the house.
I walk the three miles into town. When I get to the police station the news crew are waiting. They come running towards me when they see me. I’m holding the knife but I’m holding it up in a way that tells them I’m not going to use it anymore, held high above my head. The cameraman practically shoves the lens in my face. I don’t mind though. I let him. I look straight into the camera. This is my moment. When the whole country, maybe even the whole world will see me. The reporter is asking me my name and why I killed the mayor. I see the policemen running towards me with their guns pointed. Before they even tell me to do anything I throw the knife down and kneel on the floor. The reporter has been dragged away but the cameraman has got close again. I put my hands behind my head and stare into the lights and the cameras, all of them pointing at me.