The police have taken Zachary’s samurai sword from him. It lies sheathed on the back seat of the squad car, whilst Zachary stands between the two officers, hunched over and groaning, his bloodied green shirt unbuttoned to the waist. As they lead him to the back of the ambulance he stumbles and winces and holds the sides of his chest. When he reaches the steps he swears bitterly, slows up, but eventually makes the climb and settles himself back on the trolley, one hand up to shield his eyes from the light.
He has been beaten up. His nose is broken, and there is an s-shaped gash in the centre of his forehead; the blood from both injuries has fanned down across his face and dried into an inverted V.
He has shaved his head to the skin except for a strip of hair along the middle. His eyebrows are gone, too, and beneath the crusted blood you can just make out a minutely shaved goatee beard tracing the outline of his lips and mouth. Zachary’s head has a dreadful topography; his face is something crudely sketched onto the edge of a monstrous broad bean, the forehead overhanging the eyes which glitter in the shadows beneath it. The wide spread of his skull seems soft, swelling in unexpected places, almost as you look at it, like someone squeezing a water-filled balloon. And when he talks, the pressure of that invisible hand seems equally present in his words. They patter out quickly and quietly, hissing little rushes of violence that whistle out through his teeth.
At the end of each phrase, he purses his lips and gives his head a little sideways wobble, as if the terrible injustice of his case hardly needs repeating. But he needs his audience to be quiet. If I say anything, he looks in my direction only for as long as it takes to gauge the distance between us.
‘Pam Penistone. Bitch witch. May she rot in hell for all eternity. As if the Devil would want her down there. He’d never get the stench out.
‘I am an incredibly educated man. I speak ten languages. I can do any accent there's ever been. I can quote Shakespeare, the Greek philosophers, the Bible. And yet that maggot-ridden hag Pam Penistone and her halfwit boyfriend Tony think I'm nothing but a bag of shit to kick to the floor. Do they think I have no power? Do they think I don’t know what they’re about?
‘I’ve had the country’s best psychiatrists working on my case. They don’t know what to make of me. I can sing any opera that’s ever been written. (whistles a snatch of the Toreador’s March.) Carmen by Bizet is as Spanish as the Champs Elysee.
‘My daughter is the only thing worth living for. But Pam Penistone, the Poisonous Minge has taken her over, turned her against me, her and that retard boyfriend of hers. But she knows who I am and what I’m capable of, even if they don’t.
‘I’m not a samurai. I wouldn’t put myself in the same class as those mythical warriors of old. I have too much respect for who they are and what they can do. There is a code that needs to be observed. But I’m not giving too much away if I tell you that I am a member of a secret and highly trained covenant. There's an underground army of warriors I can call on at any time to do my bidding. And I’m certainly going to instruct them to kill that whore Pam Penistone and Tony, her worm of a sidekick.
‘I'll have them killed. Or maybe not killed, but forced to suffer each other for a thousand years. That would be punishment enough. A thousand years to roll around in each other’s shit. And then be killed.
‘When I married the Witch Penistone I was desperate to leave home. I was being abused. I didn’t know the first thing about anything. But that first night we slept together, when she was sleeping, I looked inside her knickers. And you know what? They were caked in shit.
‘I didn't know then what I know now. I’m an expert on the classics. I'm like Achilles, or Hector. She could've been my Helen, Helen of Troy. But if the thousands of ships had any idea what they were really sailing towards, they would have turned round and come straight back.
‘I’ve studied military history. I used to have a set of Napoleonic soldiers. A thousand pieces, worth ten thousand pounds. But that whore Pam Penistone stole it. She stole it whilst I was in hospital last time. When I came out I couldn't prove it but I knew she'd done it. I'll have my justice, though. I'll see she pays. I'll make it my dying wish. My one true aim in life.
‘See these scars on my chest? I did those. I don't choose to call it self-harm. That's someone else's label. I don’t live by labels. These are simply the marks I make on myself to remind me of all the times I've let my daughter down. To remind me not to be late in future.
‘Tony was a gentleman to begin with. Pam Penistone led him on, she forced him to act like a monster. He's a trained killer. He respects what I can do. But just then I chose not to take action. I just stood there and let it come. He could've killed me, but he saw what I was about and held back out of respect. He knows. But Pam Penistone has her claws into him too deep.
‘I've had forty five of the top psychiatrists in the land. They call me a genius – well, that's just their words, their understanding. Genius? No - just someone with special powers who's been shat on for so long he can't take any more.
‘I kicked the drugs and the drink. I only used to smoke because I liked to see the little red point of light at the end. I'd take a drag - see it glow and think - ooh, what's that? - then - here, you take it. Not bothered. Done. Kicking the drink was harder than kicking the drugs. Legal drugs.
‘This world is fucked up, my friend. Fucked up and finished. There's no honour or love any more.
‘I just feel sorry for them. They don't have the love that I do. So I’ve decided I’m going to handle this all legal and above board. I don’t seek vengeance. That is not the way of the Covenant. But I do seek justice, and I do seek punishment. And if I don’t see justice, and I don’t see punishment, let me give you all fair warning, you and your newspapers. Write this down. There’s a bloodbath coming the likes of which this world has never seen.’