Anatomy of Horror
"How many serial killers walk among us everyday?" Ever looked into the eyes of the man next to you in line and wondered what was below his floorboards? What about the girl, who's scanning your groceries, wonder if she indulges her sick fantasies? A simple trip to the grocery store could bring you within inches of a madman, a killer. What if you had stumbled into a hunting ground? What if you were picked as the next target? I love the stuff you can find in tabloids. I sit it back in the rack with a last glance at its claim that "There Are Killers Among Us." A collage of the twentieth-century's best-known serial killers graces the cover.
I'm in a small mom-and-pop grocery. The kind you find in any rural town. I'm not surprised that The Enquirer is the only magazine on the rack. It's probably the only thing they can read. I wonder how many of them believe this trash. According to society (aka the government) you should feel safe walking the streets unless a guy wearing a turban is walking on his toes. Are we on orange or green alert? I can never keep up. You're more likely to die at the hands of someone you know. What if the real threat was not a strange terrorist, dark and dirty, but a neighbor, nice and helpful? The masses are such sheep. I even have a name for them, Simps, for simples. You know the moral majority that really believes the government isn't lying to them. We're talking about the kind of people who are fascinated by a potato that bares a slight resemblance to the Virgin Mary.
The tabloid is on to something. I refuse to accept that we are as rare as society would have you believe. Nowadays we're a dime a dozen. There are the famous; DeSalvo, Gacy, Dahmer, and Bundy. The flavor of the month is this BTK guy. He's a real showman. I doubt the thrill of the kill is as important to him as the publicity. That trite saying the television uses is true, "If you can't be famous be infamous." Yet, there are so many who are not in the limelight. What about all the black widows, the angels of death, the mother's who kill numerous offspring for attention and pity? Maybe women killers don't get the ratings for sweeps week.
So, how are these supposed beasts made? We have to be beasts because to admit that the urge to kill is essential to the human condition is to admit our link to nature. We all know God made us superior to the beasts. No doubt environment plays a part. The glut of violence and sex in the media has to help. The crumbling family structure is probably lending its hand. Just because Daddy isn't in the picture doesn't necessarily fuck Junior up. Daddy could be there and sodomizing him before he beats Junior with a strap.
What about psychiatry you may ask? Brain chemistry is blamed for so much these days. Granted there are serial killers with psychiatric problems. I do not consider myself to be one of them. I don't hear the neighbor's dog telling me to kill. As far as I know God has never spoken to me. I know I am not God, but I am superior. I have proven this to be so all my life. I fought my enemy and I brought him down. Now, I live off the blood of the weak. They are common, all of them. I have yet to meet my equal. The only difference between killing a cow and killing a whimpering bitch is it takes more effort to kill the cow.
I'm not like these idiots out to make them selves famous. I've never left a corn flakes box full of clues for the cops. I'm not writing letters taunting the press. I consider my practice to be very deeply personal. I do it for me and to satiate my hunger. I am a hunter. They are my pray. I eat their life and I live on. I doubt there is anyone in the world that could understand me the way I do. So, I don't try to explain, not even to others who have the same need. I live alone. I always have my tools at hand and I am ready for satisfaction when the urge strikes.
Yet, the new technology has out paced my breed. DNA can be found anywhere. They can find out who someone was just by using their bones. Tire tracks, shoe prints, the kind of cigarettes you smoke can be used against you. I'm careful, but I have another advantage. I live in a rural West Virginia town and our state is at lest ten to twenty years behind the rest of the country in technology. Plus, I have known the local sheriff since birth.
The checkout girl's hand touches mine as she reaches for the bleach I just sat on the conveyer belt. Her hand is so smooth and pale. She's painted her closely-bitten nails black. She already looks dead. I look up and our eyes meet briefly. Her eyes are ice blue and rimmed in charcoal black. She is trying so hard to hide her beauty. I move my hand. "Sorry," she mumbles as she picks up the bleach. I'm staring at her, I know, but I can't stop. I'm studying her. She's dyed her lighter colored hair blue black. It's short and spiked. She wears a dog collar and a black mess shirt under a tiny black T-shirt that reads "It's not polite to stair." There is a small silver ball sitting below her lower lip. She has put a stud in her face, how disgusting. I want to rip it out for her.
She is the only cashier at the only working register. The other three are piled with old or yet to be set out merchandise. You can tell the store has seen better days. It smells of rooting produce and body odor, probably due to the lack of air conditioning. The old hag at the help desk looks disgusted. I'm not sure if it is with me or with her personal lot in life. I look back as my newfound beauty finishes up. A tall gangly teenager bagging my stuff gives me a metallic grin.
I hand her the money. She doesn't look up and she doesn't smile, not even in that plastic "I have to do this" kind of way. Her misery confuses me. I'm not sure it's genuine. Maybe it's just the rebellion of a troubled teen. Then again aren't they all troubled, teens I mean? I take exceptional care to remember her name. The nametag hanging from her shirt has raised plastic letters reading "I'm here to help you. Tammy." I want to play with her. Make her lose that perfectly apathetic composure. She will be my next.
I'm feeling a little of the joy I get from the hunt as I throw the groceries in the bed of my old rusty pickup and for an instant I forget to be attentive to my surroundings. I open the driver's side door and a half-used roll of duct tape with long blond hairs stuck to it falls out from behind the seat. After quickly looking around I throw it back in. I intend to dispose of it on the way home, probably, in the dumpster of a fast food place. No one wants to look in them. I'm mad at myself that I become distracted. I vow to double my efforts to dispose of evidence. I know it could be put together for my last pretty. It was her hair on the tape, but they might link the two if I take my dark damsel from the store.
I'm riding home in silence; the steady hum of the engine keeps me company. It's a two-hour drive. Relatively close for my taste. I've driven all night for a good catch. But I didn't plan on this one. It was her eyes. I could see her soul in them pleading to get out. She desires liberation from that body and I'm the one to give it to her. She's weak. Like all of them. "Survival of the fittest," as Darwin says. I'm pondering this and other such philosophical questions when I enter the dirt lane that leads to my farm.
I don't see the gray minivan until it turns into the lane after me. I know it at once to be my sister, Trish. "Dear Lord, can't the woman call." I don't have a cell phone; I find them a public nuisance. She still could have contacted me at home to arrange a visit. I park the truck in front of the old farmhouse I have inhabited all my life. The white paint is flaking and the porch sags, but it's home. It was safe until now. Trish had not visited in the last ten years that Mom had lived with her. Then I remember the tape I forgot to dump and decide there must be cosmic forces working against me today.
The doors of her soccer-mom van open and a swarm of children bail out followed by my slow, old and quite a bit senile mother. As if the demon spawn weren't bad enough Mom will definitely have some fucked up flashback of a time I'd rather forget. My panic attack edges close to a nine on the rictor scale. My hands are shaking as I grip the door handle of the truck. I get out slowly ready for action.
"So, glad we caught you Vince. Mom was dying for a visit," Trish crows in her best, 'I hate you more then you'll ever know' sweetness. We're twins by the way, paternal not identical. We have a love hate thing going. In our mother's eyes we have flip flopped between roles as the good twin and bad twin. I've been on bad twin duty for the last ten years. Mom blames me for moving her off the farm.
I'm busy trying to keep the hellions hands off my precious belongings and listening to Mom tell me how horrible "her" house looks. Trish is nowhere in sight. She has four mongrels and the youngest just went "potty" on my carpet while another asks me at least five hundred times for "jews" while hitting my leg with a sippy cup. The one with the bladder control problem starts crying and "jew" boy manages to smash my kneecap with the cup. Mom is babbling in the background.
My senses start shutting down. I get tunnel vision. The chaos around me gets fuzzy. All the sounds merge into a deafening roar. I am about to lose control. I pull myself away from the tiny clawing hands and lock myself in the bathroom. It is the only room with a lock. I don't remember anything after that. Trish and the horde might have pounded on the door. I was safe. I could relax.
I wake up to silence. My bathroom is so small you can literally have your head in the sink, leg in the tub and ass on the toilet at the same time. The rarely mopped linoleum floor is sticky from who-knows-what. I'm glad to get off it. I stand up rubbing my sore back and peek out the stained curtains. I could see the van was gone. "Thank you." Without direction I am grateful.
I open the bathroom door with a sigh of relief. I have let myself down yet again. I forgot to check my surroundings. Once I do the sight of my mother asleep in my brown plaid recliner surprises me. She is slumped to one side and snoring softly. Okay, this isn't over. My retarded sister has forgot her own mother. That has to put her in bad twin position. I don't bother to wake Mom. I find Trish's cell phone number in my wallet and dial. I'm already smiling at the fun I'm gonna have, guilt galore. She picks up on the third ring. "Yah," is her normal answer. Today she says, "Yes, Vincent. How is mother?" There is too much self-righteous ego in her voice. I'm afraid.
"What did I miss?" I ask in stupefied wonder.
"If you hadn't hid in the bathroom like a nit wit you'd know." I hear one of the offspring screaming in the background. "Tommy stop biting him or I'll pull over." What a laugh. I have never seen her spank one of them. She doesn't believe in "corporal punishment." She calms her voice before she acknowledges my existence. "You know what a handfull I've got since the divorce. You're all alone out there and your doctors say it's not good for your condition. Mom needs you as much as you need her."
"So, you decide to leave her here without asking me. How selfish of you!"
She laughed. I don't expect that. I also don't expect the venom I hear in her voice. "You have the nerve to call me selfish. You have never cared for anyone in your life. You play the invalid and collect your state check while the rest of us have to work." She starts screaming. I have to hold the phone away from my ear. There is a remarkable silence in the rest of the car. "Mom was always there for you. She cared about you when no one else did. She wiped your ass now you can wipe her's. I have too much and you have nothing." She starts weeping. All I think is if she wrecks the car and dies I'll end up with the brats, too.
"Calm down, Trish. Isn't there anything else we can do? Why not put her in a home?"
A prompt, "NO," comes from the other end of the line so loud Mom shifts in her sleep. Trish worked as a candy striper in a rest home and saw things that made her swear against them. "You know how I feel...."
I cut her off. I don't need to hear that speech again. I also know we have joint power of attorney. I can't check Mom into a home myself. Everything has to be okayed by both of us. I had agreed to this thinking us meant her. Trish is such a control freak I never thought she would dump Mom on me. She should know I'd forget to feed her or something. Doesn't Trish remember all those pets I went through as a child? Wink, wink.
"Her stuff is in the bedroom," she says softly. She hangs up before I can respond. I call back three times and keep getting her voice mail. I look around and find all of Mom's worldly possessions in the spare room. They had also left behind juice boxes, junk food wrappers and a puddle smelling of asparagus. For a moment I just stand here feeling my world fall apart.
More then a bit overwhelmed, the urge overtakes me. I have always heeded the call in the past. Now there is the old lady in my way. If I leave her alone would the house be in flames when I come back? Not that I'd give much of a shit if the old bat burned alive, but the house is finally the way I want it. I usually kept one or two pretties under the house or in the barn, but just this moment I'm fresh out.
First, I have to usher the old crow to bed. I wake her up enough to pull-push her towards the neglected spare room. She doesn't notice anything is different. What little yellow-gray fluff she still has on her head stands straight up and tickled my nose as she presses against my chest and mumbles endearments I don't care to understand. I drop her fully clothed into the musty sheets. The tattered quilt I throw over her sprays dust in the air. She snores contently as I shut the door.
Second, I lock all the doors and windows. I feel like I am putting up the livestock for the night. I disconnect the gas from the stove, just in case. As I'm doing it I mentally note that it would be a good way to get rid of her. Leaving the gas on but unhooked. People die from Carbon Monoxide leaks all the time. I puzzle over the question. Could I really kill her? I don't doubt that I could but should I. Trish was half-right. Mom didn't always protect me, but in her weird way she does care. She is the only one who has ever cared. Maybe, I should keep her around for the attention. Plus, matricide was just too cliched for me.
Third, I check my truck. Most of the groceries in the back have gone bad. My tub of Fudge Ripple is soaking the paper grocery bag. The milk looks like it has formed a solid. I hate wasting money. I hate to break my patterns. It is against my own rules to start out with things less then perfect, but this is a special circumstance. My home has been violated before. My diabolical sister has mind fucked me. I need satisfaction and I need it now.
After dumping the groceries in the trash I slam the door of the International and hastily drive the two hours back to my prey in silence. Rumbling down the red dirt road that leads to civilization, I keep my pace slow. I pull onto the two-lane and gun it through walls of corn on both sides. I pull into town just as the honkytonks are glowing to life. I'm not interestd in that scene. I like the quiet type. It's more fun to make them scream.
I want the dark beauty wasting her time at Farlen's grocery. When I pull into the parking lot behind the decaying grocery, I see only one other vehicle. It must be hers. An old VW Bug with nothing short of a novel penned on the exterior. I don't know where to start. I read as much as I can by the faded glow of the street light. She thinks deeply. It could be interesting to talk to her if I were at all interested in her mind. My hunger rises at the mere thought of the hunt. I feel myself become the predator. The lone wolf. We were just educated animals and some of us barely that. My passions rise along with other things. I take care of it before I think.
A bag boy comes out the back to take out the trash. I melt into the shadows. The greasy-faced pimply maggot steps out into the parking lot and shields his eyes with his hand. He's looking directly at me but I know he cannot see me. "Hey, anyone out there?" He waits for my reply, which isn't coming. I wouldn't waste my voice or my visage on him. "I saw you with your dick in your hand. You know that's not cool. Why don't you take you shit back home?" He stands there in the light as if lording his superiority and youth over me. I'm not intimidated. I might have been more stealthy in my days gone by, but I'm no less the predator.
"Don't worry sonny, I'll take it back home." I used my devil voice, deep and crazy. I add a cackle at the end just to give it the extra touch. He turned tail and ran back inside. I hear him turn the bolt to lock the door. I believe in the alfa male and I am the strongest in the pack. This foolish male wants to fight for control of the pussy supply and he has no idea that he is challenging. That's why I'll have to take him, too.
For more, look for Aimee's novel Anatomy of Horror coming soon!