Ratings spike

Bob sat on an uncomfortable plastic chair outside the office of his producer, he knew this “chat” would be about his tumbling viewer numbers over the recent weeks. In his heyday Bob Bennet was Mr. Saturday night telly, in the 70’s he was a stand-up comic, had his own show with jokes and sketches, all the big names were clamouring to get on that, he thought. The 80’s saw him move over to the game shows and Saturday night extravaganzas, and it would not have been Christmas without Bob Bennet, doing some show or another, the 90’s saw him as a cult figure, and he made the comedy quiz show his home, and before the turn of the millennium, we saw him take the chat show by storm.

Recent years through bouts of ill health, scandal and a Spanish hideaway, his TV career seemed over, there were no more producers beating down his door. He would lift the receiver on the phone as he walked past these days, just to check it was still working. It was not unknown for him to sit in his front room of a morning just waiting for the postman, although he would tell people he loved the way the early morning sun shone through that window while he drank his coffee. He was, for all intense and purposes, a forgotten man, yeah, sure, his old stuff would always be on one of those cheap end satellite channels, but it was never like the old days. These days, it appeared to Bob, as though he had been replaced by two northern nob heads, and a sexy brunette he would love to be hanging out the back of. This was until six months ago when his agent had called him and laid out the brief of a new chat show he was wanted for. Number one choice. “If they don’t get you bob, well…..” And after a long pause…….
“Well, it don’t get done, simple as, no you, no show, what do you say?”
Bob had loved the idea, but playing hard to get he said….
“Mmmmmm, I don’t know, I’m happy here, I have done my time”
“It would have to be financially worthwhile” he added, and he left it at that.

Here he was, six months later, like a school boy up in front of the head master, or that’s how it felt to him. The show had been well watched for the first three episodes, but by the middle of his first contracted twelve show run, the figures would have only been impressive to a god slot at 2am. It had by no means been Bob’s first bollocking ever, and after all these years he had begun to realise that a meeting that does not begin with a compliment, had the potential to be a maelstrom of angry words and maybe even a violent act or two. This one had all the hallmarks of one too, the….
“Look Bob…”
And the ever popular…….
“It’s not me, it’s above my pay-grade, if it were down too me….”
And the everlasting…
“They told me to tell you……”

After an hour of drivel at volume, Bob picked up the first thing that came to hand, in this case it was one of those 70’s round green marble paperweights, and without a sound of effort or trial, in absolute silence, threw it through the plate glass window behind this masturbating baboon of a man, this chinless fucking wonder, and in HD slow motion he watched the glass explode and then he glanced back to the shock and horror on the face of the twat before him, in a shower of sparkling glass, catching the summer suns beauty, effortlessly as it spun and twirled drawn by earth’s gravity, Bob knew, he himself, had proved who had the biggest man pouch, he stood silently for a few moments, and then left the room. As Bob drove home he still chuckled at the girly wimpish squeal that escaped his boss as the window boomed, it was a story to dine out on for years, he chuckled.

There was lots of covert whispering going on in the shadows as they went through the preparation for that nights show. Bob could feel an underlying atmosphere in the studio, it felt like walking in to a saloon in a 70’s western, it went on like that all day. He had at times expected to see tumble weed blowing across the studio; he was not a happy camper today. He pushed through the recording of the show, feeling like he was trying to push shit uphill with a rake. Tonights drab collection of wasted breaths were an ugly trolley dolly, maybe a pre-op welder from Glasgow if those big hairy knuckles were anything to go by, she/he was famous for proving to be a complete arse clown on some lazy bullshit reality thing. A singer for whom, without auto tune would be a crack whore sucking off tramps for methylated spirits under the canal bridge, lucky for her they also had Photoshop, she had been found by some reality “help I am talentless, but not bad tits and arse, get me outta here” bollocks wank crap they are calling entertainment in this brave new century, bob thought as he went over the list of guests, but he was just glad to be back working, and kept his thoughts to himself. Lastly, a comic whom he had taken under his wing many moons ago, who was entering that point of his career when you have paid your dues, worked hard, and made it to British Celebrity Royalty, one out of three ain’t bad he had to admit to himself.

It had been one of those long stressful days, Bob thought it would never end, a real marathon, plus too much time spent biting his lip trying not to tell his guests what he really thought of them. Once the show was in the can, Bob retired to the bar to unwind, much needed after yesterday’s meeting, and his chuckles came back, he didn’t care that he was sitting alone and laughing to himself. It was some hours later that he jumped in to his Aston, the August storm had passed leaving that fresh smell and chill in the air,
“Refreshing” Bob exclaimed out loud to no one in particular, the naked sky was showing off all its diamond stars on its black velvet background, Septembers coming chill hit Bobs flushed cheeks as his convertible roof slowly disappeared in to the boot.

He pulled out of the studios car park and in to quieter London streets than those he had come in on, and the wind on his face dropped a few degrees, even more welcome, sobering. His phone began vibrating in his pocket, it distracted him from gulping in big mouthfuls of chilled night air; he rummaged for what seemed like hours…
“gotcha, you slippery little bugger” he exclaimed to the night air, finally locating the said slippery bugger. His agent had text him this morning, wishing him all the best after yesterday’s meeting, and without thinking he began to text back. Bob was quite eager for his agent to put the feelers out, to see if he could find out what he may be faced with in the coming days. He had only typed one sentence when there was a colossal thud from the front end of the car, and a couple of hops like going over speed humps.

He pulled the car over to the side of the road to investigate from whence it came. As he stepped from the car his attention was caught by a bundle of rags lying in the road, that’s what it was, some bit of fly tipping, and his chest, which had felt as though it was about to explode moments ago, eased. As he approached the obstruction, to remove it from causing any further accidents, the pounding returned to his chest within milliseconds and twice as intense as before, as the bundle let out a blood filled gurgle and splutter, the nut sack he had felt so big and proud of yesterday, hit the tar-macadam like a kiwi on a miss-judged bungee cord.

He rushed over to what could only have been a person, as he rolled the limp body over like a rag doll, the night closed upon him like an icy shroud. He knew this face, not four hours ago he was interviewing her through gritted teeth, and desperately trying to sound complimentary of her murderous cover version of a classic track. His head spun with every idea imaginable to extricate himself from this monstrous cluster fuck, dump her body, stick it in the boot, run and never be seen again, chuck her in the mighty Thames. His eventual idea was to drive home, stop off in the services for a drive though car wash, then home…..deny everything. He run a quick email off, removing the text at the bottom that read sent from my iPhone, telling his manager he had arrived home about an hour prior and wanted to inform him off his feelings after filming todays show, how it had mentally and physically drained him to work in such an atmosphere, and he was retiring to bed with a good movie and a bottle of the highlands finest, and that he would call him in the morning to catch up. That was his alibi established, and said without saying to his agent don’t call me tonight. He glanced nervously around, no one had appeared to have seen anything, not a soul around, he jumped back in to his car and drove home, via the car wash, and as promised. Upon arriving home he retired to his room with a bottle and DVD, and settled in for what would feel like his longest night ever. He was glad he had picked up a comedy box set to take to bed, and he had fallen asleep at some point, but the sun had very definitely been on the up by then and he had more passed out than fallen asleep.

As with every morning after a heavy night the sun shone through his windows with the brightness of a supernova, jarring his shattered and befuddled mind, and for a moment he almost forgot the events of the evening before, and then with a bang it hit him like a freight train leaving him gasping for air. He flicked on the BBC news, and there grinning back at him was his victim from last night, followed by a clip of the chat show where she sat opposite her killer asking her questions. He picked up his mobile with a long list of missed calls and texts, from the producer of his show, and his agent. As he was scanning through them when the phone rang, it was his agent…
“Hey Bob? You still with us” he finished with a chuckle,
“Yeah its me, I’m still alive, hahaha, so what’s all this about Karen?” He asked trying to sound confused and shocked,
“Oh yeah, she was found last night, a few miles from the studio, dead, hit and run” his agent had a small amount of excitement in his voice, which was odd considering the subject matter,
“The show has hit the roof, the iplayer crashed this morning as demand to watch her last performance went nuts, its also gone viral, you cant turn on any social network site without seeing it” as he went on all Bob could muster was a weak and feeble…
“Wow” with hindsight this was a perfect response, made him sound confused and befuddled.
“Yeah, wow, the BBC have replaced your producer on the show, if he cant work with you they said there was no point having him there. They are planning to ride the wave of this tragedy to keep your numbers up, it a bit mercenary, but rating are ratings” he continued
“They want to see you this morning, meet the new producer, can you do that?” He finished
“Not sure this morning would be any good, I got hammered last night, can I give you a call when I have sorted myself out, shower, shit and shave might sort me out, bit of breakfast, know what I mean?” Bob asked as a plan crept through his mind,
“Ok, I will ring them now and see if we can shift it, don’t see it will be an issue, chat later” and his agent hung up. Bob jumped out of bed and ran down stairs, the thudding of his heartbeat crashing through his tender mind, he entered the garage to see the damage to the front of his car.
“Oh shit” he said as he viewed the bumper of his precious car, his plan had been to see if he could cover up the damage, but this was far to badly damaged to be T-Cut and polished out.
“Plan B” Bob exclaimed, went back up stairs and as he did so he called his agent….
“Hey Joe? It’s Bob, just remembered I had a few sherbets after the show last night so I hailed a cab to get home, so the car is still at the studio” he said in a matter fact tone,
“Any chance you could pick me up on your way to the studio, save me the cab fare?” He asked, even if he got a negative reply, he had established another piece of his alibi,
“You’re a tight fucker Bob, save you the cab fare, hahahahaha, yeah no worries, I have shifted the meeting to 3pm, I will pick you up at 1.30pm so we can chat before hand, is that all ok with you?” Joe finished still with a chuckle in his voice,
“Perfect, see you at 1.30” Bob said with a false chuckle in his voice.

Bob had 2 hours to get a plan in motion, he had to get rid of the car, but not in bright daylight, so he would meet Joe outside the gates to his drive, just in case Joe got a bit nosey around the house and saw the car. He decided to shower and shave as quick as he could, get a bit of breakfast down him, and get down to the end of his drive by about 1.15pm, just in case Joe arrived early. Sorted. He could dispose of the car tonight after dark. He started to practice the line of anger he would use when he notices his car ‘stolen’ when he arrives at the studio. It’s not unknown for cars to be stolen from there, there had been a spate of them of late, perfect. Once its dark tonight he would drive his car in to the middle of know where and torch it, yeah,
“I’m fucking Teflon me, fucking Teflon…” he shouted at the bathroom door.

As planned, he was outside his gates by 1.15pm, no sign of Joe, he sparked up a Cohiba Maduro while he waited, and leisurely puffed away on it. Trying desperately to get in the right frame of mind to get his alibi set, but without trying to appear he was laying down his alibi, tricky. Repetition was a way he would try to get it sounding natural, bit by bit. He had to make sure he kept the first part straight, that he had left the car at the studio and hailed a cab, just the basics unless he was asked for more detail, K.I.S.S, ‘Keep It Simple Stupid’. Over and over he just said in his mind,
“Had a few drinks at the bar, and hailed a cab to get home” that was all he had to stay. Easy.

Bang on 1.30pm Joe pulled up, and Bob jumped in,
“Thanks mate, sorry for the inconvenience, but I needed a few drinks after the trials of yesterday, and you know how hot the cops are on drink driving these days, hahah, that would have been all I needed, more scandal, hahaha” Bob said in as a matter of fact way as he could muster. Joe nodded,
“I feel yah, your were in exile for quite a while back then, I was about to drop you as a client when this new opportunity arrived” this comment hit Bob like a hammer, he had never though his agent would have let him go, after all the money he had made off of his back, but he let it go, he had bigger issues to occupy his mind. They chatted generally about bits and pieces during the journey and Bob tried desperately to avoid hammering home hit alibi, and it was not mentioned again during the drive.

They pulled in to a pub car park walking distance from the studio for a drink and bite to eat before the meeting, and discuss a plan of action. Bob ordered a pint for both of them, and a chaser for himself, and started a tab, he told Joe that this was on him as a thank you for the lift. The whiskey was dispatched in a single go, and as Joe watched, Bob simply said,
“Hair of the dog mate” with a smile and a wink. The conversation was light hearted, he told Bob that he should not ask for a salary increase, but he should get a firm agreement that the remainder of the contract should be cast iron and not be cancelled if rating fall again. It was an assurance he had not felt they could have demanded last time, but this time he wanted to nail their ‘nutsacks’ to the floor, one of Joe’s endearing features was his wild grasp of the English language.

The meeting went well, and the shows new producer had admitted to being a little more than star struck by Bob, he didn’t mind he reminded her of sitting around the telly on a Saturday night eating fish and chips as a child. He didn’t push too hard for any extra perks or money, just as he had agreed with Joe, and got the promise not to axe the show early if ratings dropped. They did, however, insist that any further series would depend wholly on the ratings of the current run of shows. This caused a truly wicked thought to grow in Bobs mind, very wicked indeed. What if every week he was to kill the guest he found most irritating or difficult? How could he murder at will, without being a suspect? As hard as he tried he could not get this devilish idea to leave him be, I mean, he was a TV personality, he was not a serial killer, or was he? He had taken the hit and run murder of a guest in his stride, he had made a plan to disappear his car later that day. He had called the police when he returned to car park with Joe after the meeting to report his car ‘stolen’, and was totally convincing doing so.

He returned home, thanks to Joe, and he had been convincingly pissed off at his disappearing car. Now he just had to make sure it actually disappeared. He had laid off the booze all evening, he had nothing planned for tomorrow, so drinking until the sun came up was possible after he had dumped his car. He knew some derelict sites out of town where he planned to dump and torch his car. Just past midnight he left his house in the car, couple of gallons of petrol in a can, and his mountain bike on the back seat. He was hoping that it actually was like riding a bike when he attempted to ride a bike, and that you never forget, it had been ages since his last ride. He pulled up at a disused farm about six miles from home, he got out of the car, giving his baby one last look over, removed the cap from the plastic petrol can and chucked it under the car, lit a match and threw it in the general direction, the petrol fumes met the flame, and up it went. Bob stood a fair distance back to avoid smoke contaminating his clothes. He watched to make sure the car was well enough consumed by the fire. He carried the bike to the road so as not to leave tire treads on the soft ground. He jumped on the bike, wobbled somewhat until he got his balance, then just like a duck to water, rode off in to the night.

By the time he got home he never wanted to see that bike again, his legs burnt from the effort of six miles, his body was shaking from the exertion of the ride, he dumped the bike in the corner of the garage, stripped off and jumped in to the shower. After a thirty minute shower, he dried off and went down stairs for a well earned drink. He picked up the clothes he had been wearing stuffed them in a black bin bag, threw them through the door from the kitchen to the garage, with the intention of popping them in to the wheelie bin in the morning. He poured himself a generous drink which he swallowed without it even touching the sides, grabbed the bottle, a lined writing pad, pen, a few DVD’s and his now empty glass. He returned to his bedroom, popped in the DVD, jumped in to bed and began to jot down some ideas for his future guests demise.

When he woke just after twelve, he was once again hungover, and as he looked at the bottle, he thought he could have saved having to wash the glass by popping a straw in to the bottle. He had really hit the sauce over the last couple of days, it was his way of releasing the stresses thrown upon him by life. He looked at his pad as he drank his morning coffee, his sober mind was feeling guilty that he had such an idea, but he had to admit that the planned guests for the remainder of his run of shows had at least one ‘celebrity’ the world could do without on each show. It was as tempting as it was repugnant to his sober mind, and the thought of a second series, another chance to have all the trappings of fame. Life in Spain with no pressures, nothing to do and nowhere to be was good, but it was not fame. Fame, he mused, fame was addictive, all consuming, it was fame. He opened his mind to giving this idea some rational thought, it was sunny, he would relax by the pool, with a soft drink, possibly, and give it a long hard thought.
By the time the sun had dipped behind the trees, he had almost convinced himself it was a good idea.

He would google ‘how to kill and not get caught’ but he was sure that would be the way he got caught. He would have to do this the old fashioned way, go to a library, if they still existed in this brave new broadband world. He could sign up to a library somewhere, false name and address, maybe a disguise and check in to toxins and such like. But then he had the idea that if he was to read the books, take notes, or scan them on his smart phone, he may not even have to sign up to the library, just research. He was sure he had a phone book somewhere, he was that paranoid about the internet he did not even want to search for a library on there, he wanted to leave no trail, if this was what he was going to do.

He had spent two days at two different library’s, in disguise, glasses and a false moustache, he knew just glasses worked for superman and supergirl, but he didn’t think it would really work in real life, and a flat cap just to top it off. He had done some good research, he was now more informed. He was overjoyed to know that the foxgloves, belladonna and nightshade were all within easy reach of his home and could be used, also some poisonous wild mushrooms that could be mistaken for edible wild mushrooms, was something to bear in mind. One of his guests was a celeb chef who was always banging on about foraging, a perfect candidate for Destroying angel (Amanita virosa), just a little in a soup can kill, perfect, he giggled. Bay leaves could be used hide the poisonous mountain laurel or cherry laurel, he had a huge bay tree in his garden, and he was sure he could obtain the other two variants in a garden centre. There were more than enough ideas to keep him going for a while, tomorrow he would go and see what he could gather in the woods out the back of his house.

Early the following morning Bob rolled out of bed, and gazed across the fields with its silent shroud of early morning mist, hovering just about ankle high, dew dripping off the deep green leaves, beautiful, he thought. He quickly dressed, grabbed his phone, containing scans of what he was looking for, grabbed a plastic carrier bag from under the sink, pulled on his green welly’s and left his house through the back door. There was something about his wax jacket, the smell, the feel or the sound it made when he moved, that made him feel like a country squire, he loved it, and worn with his tweed cap. Belladonna was his first discovery, before getting too deep in to the wooded country side, while the plant contained poison, he had read that the berries were where the most toxicity could be found, and he began to pluck them from the plant, not sure how much he needed he stripped two plants of their bounty. As he ventured further in to the woods, he found in a lightly wooded area, the fungi Destroying angel, it sat at the roots of a big old Birch tree, there were a dozen or so, and he picked them all, popped them in to the bag with the berries he picked a few moments before. He ventured deeper in to the woods to find his last plant to harvest, hemlock, it was reported to look like cow parsley, but with a distinctive scent. He pulled the pen knife from his pocket, and cut down a couple of plants, and added them to his carrier bag. Then he just stood there for a few moments to absorb this quintessential English woodland. He sat on the trunk of a fallen tree, reached in to his inside pocket and pulled out a joint he had rolled for himself the night before, then his lighter. Just before he lit it, and he could not explain why, he scanned around to make sure he was on his own, which he was, there was not a soul to disturb his moment of contemplation and smoke. He noticed that the more he dragged on his smoke the more reasonable the idea of creating poisons became, he was more able to rationalise the whole idea, even murder. I mean, he thought, who would miss one celebrity chef? An X-factor winner, a sad waste of human skin from love island? Or any of the others who were famous for fuck all? He had started to believe he would be due a knighthood for saving the British public from the shit they were peddling.

“That’s right, a fucking knighthood, yes I did say that, a bloody knighthood” he shouted to any woodland animal in earshot, and then he was over come by the giggles, and no matter how much he tried to stop, it just got more and more difficult to catch his breath or see through the tears, at one point his ribs hurt so much and a breath of air was so hard to grasp that he thought he might just die of a heart attack where he sat. Eventually he got himself together, and wandered home, still chugging on his joint and still in the grip of sporadic giggling fits and as he entered the house his fell to the floor and writhed around like a beetle stuck on his. He reached a hand up to the worktop and pulled himself up..
“Message to ones self, a little less herb next time” he said to the kitchen cupboard…
“Or keep it the same but buy incontinence pants” he said through gritted teeth, then poured himself a mug of coffee from the machine he had set off before he left for his woodland ramble.

As he sat at his breakfast bar with his coffee, he thought how he would ‘cook’ his foraged plants, and how would be best to administer them. He had read of belladonna being used for poison tipped arrows, so some sort of syringe based application may work, he was sure he still had some syringes and needles lying around somewhere, he had got them for legitimate reasons some years back. He was convinced he could use the mushrooms somehow for that foraging fool who would grace the sofas of morning pulp TV and chat shows every time he had a new cook book to plug. The hemlock was a tricky one, maybe boil it to make some sort of homeopathic solvent, he had a Bach rescue remedy bottle somewhere in the medicine cabinet, one of these guests was always banging on about homeopathy. Both the mushrooms and the solvent would have to be placed in the individuals home, but how? He thought. He strode down stair singing Elvis, and doing all the moves…………….. “Take the ribbon from your hair, shake it loose and let it fall, laying soft against my skin, like the shadows on the wall…….” Giving it all the moves….
“……All I’m taking is your time, help me make it through the night, I don’t care what is right or wrong, I wont try to understand, let the devil take tomorrow, cause tonight I need a friend…..” and finished on the bottom stair with a…..
‘Thank you very much, you’ve been a fantastic audience…” crotch out, arms raised. He felt fantastic.

He felt like a new man when he jumped out of bed the next day, he had not slept any longer than any other night, and he had been well oiled when he retired to bed, but it was one of those fantastic hangover free mornings, his mouth was as he thought, as dry as Ghandi’s flip-flops. There was a little cold coffee in the jug, which he drained in several swallows on the way to the sink to refill the machine for a fresh brew. He text his agent to organise these meeting with forthcoming guests, he would have called him but, despite the non hangover, he was not in the mood for his happy chirpy voice, not until he had reconstituted his dehydrated body. Ten minutes later his phone beeped and buzzed, and his text was replied to with a simple..
“No worries bud” bud? He thought, bud? I am in my late 60’s, bud my arse. This, he though, was a perfect example of why he had text his agent, Bob was not a morning person at the best of times, but to be called bud, at just after 10am was just too much for him. He replied with a simple….
“Thanks Joe, you’re a star” not wanting to vent his spleen to the man who has got him so much work over the years, work that had paid for this not to shabby abode and another one in Spain…
“Never bite the hand that feeds you Bob” he mumbled to himself, “theres a good boy”. Later that day Joe called him to let him know times and places for both meetings, Bob just agreed, he didn’t want to push things, and he wrote them in his calendar on the smart phone, with alarms to remind him, but he was sure he would not forget such important meetings….
“Some may say life changing” and lightly chuckled at his own perceived genius.

The foraging was as boring as he thought it would be, and he was amazed how close the horse mushroom they had picked looked like the poisonous form he had in his pocket, and as they entered the chefs kitchen, he placed his destroying angel in amongst the others while the chef was not looking and waffling on about this “fantastic” coffee he had found on his travel, to Bob, it was just coffee. After an hour being bored to death, while attempting to look riveted, he made his excuses and left. He could not have been happier when the chef asked if he could arrange to cook the mushrooms live on the show, Bob said it could be organised, but he was allergic to any type of mushroom so he would not be able to eat the produce.

True to his word he organised the burners, liquidiser and pans for this cooking session. Tim, the chef, had been boosting himself up about how good he was at foraging and how everyone should try it, and how many different flavours can be found on your door step. He cooked up a little soup, and Tim was more than happy to eat spoonfuls of this deathly concoction live on air, every mouthful was was met with orgasmic pleasure from Tim. He left the studio that night walking on air, it was late September, and although the winters chill hung on the breeze he drove home singing all the way, with the roof down on his new car……
“If heavens half as good as this I will be a happy bunny” he screamed in to the night air. He slept not a wink that night, waiting for the ‘bad’ news to reach him, he scanned every news channel all night long, he must of dropped off sometime after sunrise and was jolted awake at 11.30am by his mobile ringing…
“Yes, Bob speaking…..” he mumbled down the phone..
“It’s Joe, sorry did I wake you Bob?” Said his agent apologetically…
“Yeah, don’t worry yourself, had a bad nights sleep, thought the interview with the chef last night was horrible, couldn’t shake it, and in turn couldn’t sleep” Bob lied convincingly….
“Well chill you boots man, he is dead mate” Joe said trying his best to sound respectful, but knowing this was a positive for his clients continued career…
“Dead? What? How? Really?” Bobs surprised response had been practiced, and was more the likely cause of not sleeping last night.
“Word on the street is he picked the wrong mushrooms, haha, twat, oh sorry mate shouldn’t have said that” Joe was flustered in his response,
“I will call you later Bob when I have more info” then the phone clicked as Joe hung up. Bob stuck the morning news on and it was on all channels, friends, colleagues and fellow chef all giving their eulogies for their fallen peer, and most channels were showing clips of Bobs interview with him the evening before..
“TV fucking gold I tell ya” Bob screamed at the TV sat back on to his plush sofa with coffee in hand happy as a pig in poo……
“One down, two to go” he laughed and rolled himself a fat one. The death had the desired effect, his show was now the most watched show, the most downloaded show worldwide and must ensure him a new contract.
Jenny Hill had made a name for herself on big brother, she had no talent to speak of, just a talent to annoy Bob thought. When she had failed to be a presenter off the back of her reality TV show, she tried singing, until someone released a song she had made in the original format, before auto tune. She had a failed chat show behind her, and now she was banging on about new age remedies and homeopathy, and was beginning to make a comeback. He had visited her home to have a pre show chat, to ‘get to know her’ , but she had not given Bob even half a chance to place his ‘rescue remedy’ on her or in her home.

The day of the show he knew he would have to get her away from her handbag and swap out her solvent for his concoction. While doing the sound check he excused himself for a toilet break, snuck in to her dressing room and swapped them out. On returning, he carried on as though nothing was out of place. Could he have achieved a third death from his guest list, only time will tell he thought. She was a hard interview, she just loved the sound of her own voice, and every question he wanted to ask had to be shoe horned in as she paused for a breath. He was mentally drained after that, the kind of mental fatigue you get from a pressure salesman trying to sell you a new kitchen or solar panels. He drove home a little more subdued tonight, but he had bought some Columbian marching powder from his dealer today, just for a little bit of a change, plus he may need something to keep him awake waiting for the news of his next victim to break on the 24 hour news channels.

Two days past, with no news of her demise, Bob had wondered if he had killed the toxins from the belladonna with all the boiling. Surely it should of finished her off by now. On the fourth day, at the point where Bob had resigned himself to failure, there it was, she lived alone, and had died about three days ago, and the icing on the cake for Bob, he could hardly contain his laughter every time he thought about it, her cats had started to eat her, then all the local cats had popped in for a munch through the cat flap, bonus. The show went supersonic, the previous show had plenty of watches, but nothing like his latest show, it had gone through the roof.
A few days later the call came from the BBC, he had been called in to see the bosses, he would take Joe with him for support and guidance. The powers that be were over the moon about the ratings for the last three shows and committed to a second season. Just before he left the office his producers threw a line in to the conversation that set Bob on edge…

“Keep on bumping off the guests Bob, hahahaha” she said without a second thought, all at once Bobs mouth went dry and his scrotum tightened. Had she been serious? Did she know what’s going on? Did the police know anything? He let out a nervous giggle in reply and left the office. He was in two minds whether to go through with the fourth kill, he was in a quandary. If his producer had seen the connection how long would it be before it was discovered by the old bill? There had been no mention of murder, the first was a hit and run, no suspect was found, the second was a chef making a mistake while foraging, just one of those unfortunate incidents that sometimes happen. There was not much of the celebrity left once her cats had finished with her to determine cause of death, so he must have been in the clear, was he not?

He still had no plan for administering the belladonna poison, he could see no way of getting near enough to the next guest to administer a jab. As he sat there with a large brandy his eye was caught by an item on his wall just above the fire place. He had picked it up on a voyage down the amazon from a little known tribe, they had shown him how to use it, and given it as a gift after he had managed to take down a monkey from a tree. The blow pipe, of course, there were even a few darts with it, now a plan was starting to form. The following morning he reduced the 10mls of belladonna to just a a couple of mls, then soaked the darts in what was left, with a bit of luck they should absorb the liquid. With the method clear in his mind, he began to stalk her. In the run up to the show later that week he had noticed she was a creature of habit, and knew that his best bet would be to dart her just after she returned home one afternoon. At one point he was that close to her he almost did the deed, then realised for this to work he would have to wait until after the show, obviously.

She had been a truly awful guest, he thought after the show, she had been a member of a successful girl band, not his cup of tea at all. Now she was launching her solo career, and Bob knew he needed to take one for the team and stop her before she released and album, she could not carry a tune and was more wooden than the cast of Thunderbirds. Elvis would be turning in the grave at her rendition of “in the ghetto”, and Bob was more than surprised that Elvis himself had not struck her down mid song. Bob had to use all his skills to look and sound like he was impressed with her performance, It had been a tough one.

He had decided to leave it a few days, just so it would not look so suspicious before he added her to his list, and he had mused over that time about how many victims would count as being a serial killer, rather than just a murderer. As he sat outside her home, he began to wonder if he would have to work so hard during his next season of shows, he would have to come up with some new ways of dispatching he future guests. It was not possible these days to find enough quality guests as it used to be to fill a run of shows. He caught sight of her in his rear view mirror, bang on time he thought. She was dressed in some truly terrible outfit, not only could she not sing, but clearly she struggled dressing herself too. He rolled down his window and as she opened the gate to her house, lifting the loaded blow pipe to his lips. Taking aim, he blew with all his might. She squealed as the dart struck her buttocks, and as she rubbed the area that hurt Bob could see the dart drop to the floor. He waited until she went inside, then run up her path to retrieve the arrow. He drove home at a sensible pace so as not to arouse anyone suspicions, and like his clothes after the torching of his car, he disposed of both the arrow and blow pipe in the wheelie bin ready to collection later that week. There was a couple of weeks break before the next show, some sort of fund raiser was taking his slot, and after seven shows he felt he could do with a rest, especially with all the mental strength he had used over the last four shows.

The police had no clue as to the crimes Bob had committed, they were just put down to an odd coincidence, no real evidence to follow any wrong doing. As for Bob he had the ego of every law breaker, that he would not get caught, coupled with the fact that just because he was rich and successful he was above the law. No one blinked at the four deaths following their appearance on Bobs show, and even as the deaths continued week in week out during the second series, Bob was never thought to be involved in any way. His total now is up to twelve, and he has just been given a third series, and massive pay rise. Bob was back at the top of his profession, and the twinkle in his eye was back for good.

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