Midnight creeps upon me. A cold breeze cuts through the barren streets as the city becomes engulfed in darkness. I stand alone in the shadows watching, waiting and trying to find my victim. Drunkards they all are. Happily hopping from bar to bar on the not-so-busy main street and unsuspecting of the macabre I’m waiting to unleash. I chuckle to myself because it all seems too easy. It’s like fate is trying to hand any one of them to me.
I strike up a cigarette and let the nicotine calm my nerves. I can’t allow myself to get too excited. The time I’ve put into this cannot go to waste at the fault of my nerves. They always try and get the best of me when I’m so close. I’ve backed out many times before, but not tonight.
I bring my hood up over my head and take to the streets. The cigarette flies from my fingertips in a poetic flick as I walk. My adrenaline is high and my mind is buzzing as I strut toward my victim, a girl that looks to be around 23. She’s standing alone in the alley on Terrace Street, having a smoke, with her face glued to her phone.
“Ha, stupid broad,” I laugh to myself as I approach her. “Don’t you know better than to hang these streets alone?”
About ten feet separate the two of us from one another before I engage.
“Excuse me miss, do you have a smoke I can bum?”
“Yeah, of course,” she says, reaching for the purse at her feet. She comes back up with the cigarettes in hand, and the look in my eye gives away that I could care less about them. The knife in my hand shares even more detail to our encounter. A second later, my blade is effortlessly gliding across her throat as she tries to scream. I watch as she gasps for air and tries to stop the bleeding. My lips part like opening gates into a smile of satisfaction while her body convulses to the ground with jolts of pain. The gurgling noise she makes as her mouth fills with blood sends a chill through my entire body, causing me to shiver with pleasure.
She gives a final twitch and then she’s motionless. The pigment in her skin begins to drain rapidly under the light of tonight’s full moon, as the air fills with the thick scent of her fresh blood. I inhale deeply, letting the unique aroma linger in my nostrils for a moment. As the smell passes through my body, it awakens me to finish the task at hand. I grab her arms and drag her behind a nearby dumpster, as blood smears across the asphalt, watching carefully to make sure no one is around. Not a soul in sight. Main Street is not the great attraction that it once was.
I tuck her body away, toss the knife in the garbage, then depart as if nothing has happened. I wear a completely straight face without even the slightest look of worry or remorse for what I’ve done. You see, that’s the thing with being a murderer, you have to really commit to it. You can’t feel bad after or give a damn about who they might have been. All that matters is what they are now, which is another body for someone to mourn over and, for that reason, I feel nothing.
Humans get so attached to one another. We start to care way too much. We feel each other’s pain and begin to want the same things and so on. Not me. I was brought into this world and then abandoned. Adopted when I was three and left for dead when I was nine. Believe it or not, fourteen years later and I’ve survived. The hell I’ve been through sounds like something out of a horror movie, but the reality is that it all happened and I fucking lived it.
After walking Main for a bit, I muster the energy to pop into my favorite hole in the wall bar, Solstice. Laid back atmosphere – good music and not too many people screaming for rum and cokes.
I walk into the bar and things look no different than they usually do here. The music is blasting, there’s one couple on the small wooden dance floor, three people sitting at the bar and two guys playing pool; a typical Friday night.
I’ve been coming here since I was nineteen. Even then everyone knew I wasn’t old enough to step foot into a bar, but they knew my story and told me that anyone that can survive what I’ve been through deserves a drink whenever they damn well please. The owner, a slick rick named Charles Buicky, is an old soul. He tells it like it is, never beats around the bush and always has a cigarette in his mouth no matter where he is. The guy just doesn’t care about smoking laws.
“To hell with anyone that complains,” he once told me drunkenly over more than a few beers. “If you don’t like the smoke, then don’t come near me.”
He grew up here in Chicago and is the epitome of a true spirited Chicagoan. He believes that nothing in life should be handed to anyone, no matter how much shit they’ve been dealt. “Hard work and dedication decides your future,” he always says.
I take a seat at the end of the bar and see that Hannah is working tonight. She’s a cute little twenty-four-year-old from California and an absolute sweetheart, but she makes the worst Moscow Mule I’ve ever had. Before I even ask, she pours me a shot of Jameson and a pint of the cheapest beer on draft. She puts the drinks down in front of me, tosses me a head nod, then returns to the middle-aged fellas that keep looking my way.
The night is young, only 12:50 a.m., and I feel like I can run a marathon. I signal Hannah over and she comes with another shot of Jameson.
“How’s your night going Hannah?”
“It’s a Friday for sure. Business is slow and I’m being hit on by middle aged men who hate their wives.”
“Sounds like you’re living the dream,” I laugh.
“Yeah, it’s more like a nightmare,” she smirks. “How’s your night going, doing anything exciting?”
I want to tell her how I killed my very first victim only moments before popping in here, but I know better than that. It wouldn’t steer the night in the direction I want it to go for me.
“It’s been a pretty boring day. I went to work, ran some errands, and now here I am with you.”
“Well then,” she says pouring two more shots and sliding one my way, “here’s to us.”
“To us,” I reply, tossing the shot back. She collects the empty glasses and brings me another beer before greeting the new patrons that have just made themselves comfy two seats down from me.
It’s been an hour since I got here and the fellas at the bar are getting drunker and rowdier with each passing minute. At one point, one of them starts screaming obscenities at me for talking with Hannah. He looks to be in his late thirties or early forties. His shabby brown hair bounces wildly as he yells, globs of his saliva flying across the bar and into the drinks of his friends that encourage his belligerence. She told me she would ask them to leave, but I know she needs the money no matter how annoying they are, so I close my tab and take off. It would have been fun to embarrass him in front of his friends, but I don’t need the trouble.
The streets remain just as empty as they were before I went into Solstice, and the cold has intensified with mild winds blowing in from every direction it seems. The moon shines fiercely in the illuminated darkness that surrounds me, as I start my usual route home. Three lights down 1st street, a five-minute walk through Righteous Park, and then a straight path to my front door. I’ve done this walk so many times that I can probably do it in my sleep. With how tired I’ve been some nights coming home from the bars, I probably already have.
The walk down 1st Street takes me about ten minutes before I make it to the park, but something is different tonight. There’s someone else here. It’s not a big deal, because this is a public park, but at this hour there’s never anyone here besides myself. Judging from the heavy trench coat and fedora the unknown night crawler wears, I’m assuming he’s a man, but I can’t tell how old he is because I can’t see his face. He walks slowly, his feet dragging with each step he takes. It’s like he’s waiting, expecting someone.
I scope out the area and there doesn’t seem to be anyone else here besides the two of us. That hunger for blood has returned full force and I know this is the perfect opportunity to get my hands dirty, but I stop myself. What if this is a set up? What if he’s an undercover cop just waiting to catch someone tonight? I slow the pace of my walk, as I give it some more thought before deciding to walk up behind him just to see what his reaction will be.
The speed in my stride decreases even more when I reach just a few steps away from him. He stops dead in his tracks as I put my hand in my pocket to reach for my blade, only to realize that I tossed it in the dumpster. He turns to look at me and the moonlight shines on his face through the tall oak trees. He’s a young man who looks fairly close to my age, give or take a few years, and a few inches taller than myself. We stare back at one another as the night around us comes to a halt. The trees no longer sway idly as the wind ceases its wispy motions. His breathing is slow and steady, as if he is meditating, while mine is all over the place like I have just attempted a gym workout.
“I saw you kill her,” he speaks tenderly. “You had a nice clean cut across her throat, beautiful execution. I went up and examined her body more closely when you went into Solstice. There was a sewage drain about a yard further down the Terrace St. alley. I dropped her down there and also retrieved the knife you threw on top of a pile of old newspapers in that dumpster. Her blood is still smeared across the asphalt, but the rain tonight should take care of it. I can tell you’re new to this.”
I’m speechless. Literally fucking speechless. Where the hell was this guy watching me from? How did he know I’d be walking through this park? Why didn’t he go to the cops and why did he help me by tossing her body down the sewer?
I finally find the words to say something and all that comes out is, “Alright man, what do you want from me?”
“I want to help you,” he says. “I’m assuming that girl is the first person you’ve ever killed. You did a shitty job at getting rid of the body and probably would have been arrested in about a week or sooner, if I had not stepped in and done something.”
“Yeah well thanks, but I don’t need your help.”
I try to walk away, but he sidesteps me and blocks my path, pulling from his pocket the knife I used to kill the girl a few hours ago. We stare at each other for what seems like an eternity, until he finally speaks.
“You have two choices here; you can hear me out and let me help you, or you can continue on the path you’re on and wind yourself up in jail. It’s your choice, pal.”
I stand there thinking over what he’s offering. I want to tell him to fuck off again, but there’s something about him. He saw me kill that girl and he helped me get rid of her body so I wouldn’t get caught. Now he’s offering me more help? I get the feeling that he isn’t just some random guy that was in the right place at the right time. He’s been watching me, but for how long is what I’m unsure of.
My shoulders sink as I throw my head back and my hands in the air. “Follow me man,” I grumble, through sunken eyes and a befuddled mind. “We’ll go back to my place and talk this out over a few beers.”
“Good answer,” he replies in a satisfied tone, as we continue through the crepuscular park and on to my place.
We arrive at my rundown little apartment and take the stairs to third floor, just as the sound of rain starts to rumble outside. I grab a six-pack from the fridge and hand him one as he makes himself comfy on the loveseat that adorns the corner of my living room.
I waste no time to get down to business, and start off by asking, “Who are you?”
“Well, I’m kind of your brother.”
I can’t help but laugh as my heart jumps to my throat. I’m an orphan; I don’t have any siblings. I chug the first beer down and grab another while I let his words sink in. I always thought I was an only child. My parents dropped me off on the steps of a local adoption agency, then skipped town. I never even met the bastards. Then there were my adoptive parents. They raised me for six years, then left me to die in a house fire. It was all one big insurance scam and the sons of bitches were caught, but I don’t remember them having any other kids. Not when I was in the picture at least.
I’m looking him in the eyes and he can tell that I’m searching for answers so he starts to give them to me. With a swig of his beer and a deep breath, he starts what I’m sure will be one hell of a story.
“We aren’t related by blood, so that’s why I say we’re only kind of brothers. Your biological father married my mother when I was eleven. My dad was a dick so he was never in the picture. Your dad would talk about how he once had a son, but that they put you up for adoption once you were born. He said that he and your mom were both in no position to raise a kid.
“Eventually, I got curious and did a little digging. I looked you up using your birth name and then found out your adoptive name, which is what you go by now. It wasn’t easy but I managed. I got here three weeks ago and have been watching you since then. I wanted to just walk right up and say all of this, but the situation wasn’t that simple.
“I noticed you watching others, while I was watching you. It’s like you were plotting something and then it all started to come together. I was nineteen the first time I killed someone. I saw that look you had in your eyes when watching people. It’s the same look I would get when I first started.”
“Why did you want to find me in the first place?”
“Well, I grew up an only child. You were the closest thing I had to a sibling so I wanted to find you and connect with you. I’m glad I did because it looks like we have more in common than I ever would have thought.”
I shake my head in disbelief as I think about all he’s told me. I can’t believe I have a step brother. It’s even harder to believe that he’s also a murderer. It all sounds way too far-fetched to be true.
“Since you already know both my birth name and adoptive name, do I get to know yours?”
“It’s Flynn, Flynn Mayground.”
“That’s pretty original. I like it.”
“Thanks. I guess that’s one thing I can thank my dad for.”
We both laugh and spend the rest of the night talking about our lives. It’s incredible how much we have in common. It’s almost like we’re twins or something. He starts to tell me about some of the murders he’s gotten away with, as I go to get another six pack from the fridge.
“I killed a woman in an elevator shaft in New York City once. It was one of those old warehouse style kinds, so there were no cameras in sight.”
“How’d you do it?”
“Well, we met at a pretty fancy, upscale lounge in Manhattan. She ended up leaving with another guy that night, but I still got her phone number. Two weeks later, we get together and fuck like rabbits. I told her that we were going to stop at a friend’s place after, to have some drinks, and she was okay with that. We got to the warehouse and walked arm in arm into the elevator. She started to blow me while we were going up and then I snapped her neck when she stopped for air. This was three years ago and they still haven’t found a killer.
“How did you get rid of her body?”
“I dropped her down the elevator shaft and made it look like she had fallen,” he laughs. “I smashed our phones up afterwards and skipped town. Easiest kill I’ve ever done.”
I can’t deny that his story got me aroused. “Sounds like one hell of a blow job, if you ask me.”
“Yeah, it’s in my top ten.”
“Your life sounds so good compared to my own. You had at least one of your biological parents in your life. My dad doesn’t sound like that bad of a guy as a stepfather. You went to good schools, had lots of friends and were working toward your dreams. Why throw all of that away to become a murderer?”
“I know it may seem like I’ve had a great life and all, but I haven’t. The things you’ve been through I could never imagine, but I’d like to think that I’ve had my fair share of struggles. My mother was a drug addict. She’d take anything she could to give her some kind of high. There was this one time, when I was about seven years old, she was trying to exchange me to some drug dealer for some blow. I probably wouldn’t be here had your dad not come and stopped the whole thing.
“The whole town knew my mother was a druggie, and the kids in school made it their personal job to make sure I knew it, too. Their jokes and cruel pranks drove me to a dark side of myself that was showered with depression and anxiety. I wanted to off myself for a long time and would have succeeded at a few attempts, if I had not been stopped. Those kids are what led me to have these blood-minded cravings.”
He pauses, finishing off his beer and extending his hand for another. “In the ninth grade, I pushed this kid down a flight of stairs. He had been picking on me since we were in kindergarten. The fall busted up his face pretty bad, fractured three ribs and broke his arm. It made me happy to have hurt him. It made me want to hurt him again and everyone else that had ever picked on me. I’m not saying I’ve killed anyone I grew up with, but I damn sure gave them all something to remember me by.”
The look left upon my face is one of unmistakable excitement and admiration. Growing up, I was picked on a lot in school. I never understood why those stupid kids thought being adopted and almost dying in a house fire was anything to laugh about, but that was the core of their jokes. Like Flynn, their cruelty really drove me to be as fucked up as I am.
However, I never acted upon it. I just dealt with it. I walked the halls alone and kept to myself. There isn’t one person from my days in school that I can say was a friend. Even teachers and faculty wanted to have minimal interactions with me. I was just that weird kid that no one wanted to get to know. I wish I could have done something about how they treated me, but I was too afraid.
“Where are you staying?” I ask.
“Over on State Street. I got a one bedroom that I’m renting month to month. I was in a hotel when I first got here, but when I figured I would be staying awhile, I knew I’d need something a bit more long term.”
“How much longer are you staying?”
“I’m not sure honestly. Now that I’ve met you I could very well go home, but like I said I want to help you,” he says through sips of his beer.
“How exactly are you going to help me?”
“Well, it’s quite simple; I’ve killed a fair share of people and you haven’t. I know how to properly get rid of a body and you not so much. You’re my brother, so I just want to try and look out for you. I’ve been doing this for a while and have yet to be caught. I still live a successful life and can have fun. I want the same for you.”
I look him in the face and I can tell he’s being genuine with me. I haven’t met too many people that I can say I trust in my life, but I trust Flynn after only knowing him for a few hours. He’s family and he’s like me.
“Alright, let’s do this,” I shout.
“I’m glad you’re interested,” he says holding his beer in the air for a toast. “To you, my brother.”
Looking at the clock, I can’t believe the fact that it’s almost 4 a.m.
“We should probably get some sleep,” I yawn to him.
“I think that’s a good idea. I doubt I can fight the urge off any longer.
“You can crash here if you want. The couch turns into a bed if you look at it long enough.”
“Thanks. I think I’ll take you up on that. We can go get breakfast in the morning if you’re not working.”
“Saturdays and Sundays are my days off. That’s why I get so trashed on Fridays.”
He tosses me a head nod and a tired smile as I walk to the hall closet to gather some blankets and pillows for him, while he gets comfy on the couch.
“You need some shorts or anything to sleep in?”
“No, I’ll be okay. I usually sleep naked.”
“Please don’t get any ball sweat on the couch, it’s Italian leather.”
That comment sends him into a fit of laughter, as I hit the lights and take off to my bedroom.
It doesn’t take me long to strip down to my briefs and climb under the maroon comforter on my bed. I can’t believe I have a brother. It makes me happy to know that even though both of my families abandoned me, I have him now. My grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, not one of them have ever tried to reach out to me; not even those from my adoptive family. I have no memories of who they are or if they even exist, honestly.
Once my foster parents went to prison, I was put back into the adoption system. No one wanted to adopt a kid with a history like mine. “Oh, he’s probably gone crazy with all he’s been through”. I can’t count how many times I heard that growing up. I tried running away several times, but I always ended up back there. Someone would call me in or I’d just give up and go back because I was so afraid that I’d die alone.
When I was eighteen I was free to leave. Working shitty jobs while still being in foster care helped me save up to get my own place as soon as I could. I had to skip out on my last two years of high school in order to do that. The state fought me on it, but we reached an agreement in the end. I graduated with my GED when I was twenty and with some help from the state, I was able to get my Associates Degree in Creative Writing.
I always knew that I wanted to go to college. I just never knew what I wanted to study. I picked writing because it was the first thing on the list of possible degrees that the college counselor was going over with me that felt right. I grew an interest in it as I studied it more, but after college I never pursued a career in the field. I love writing, but I just lost the motivation to take it seriously. Maybe someday I’ll get back into it.
Right now, I work for one of the local zoos as a groundskeeper, which means that I do all the handyman work of making the place look good. This includes picking up the shit of various animals off the ground. It’s definitely not a dream job, but I like it. It keeps me calm and focused. I absolutely hate about 80% of all people, but I could never harm an animal. I don’t even kill spiders. I know they’re creepy little fucks, but have you seen them up close? The little bastards are adorable.
I finally put my mind to rest and drift off into a deep sleep, dreaming of killing the girl in the Terrace St. alley again. The world is spinning around me in the dream and my vision only shows a grainy black and grey hue, as her body lays in front of me with her hands and legs bound by some sort of rubber. It’s like being in an old horror movie. I pour acid over her while she screams, cackling wildly as I watch her writhe and squirm. I pour the acid over her throat and it creates a gaping hole, sizzling and crackling as her skin boils. From there I feed on her blood with my eyes closed, feeling everything around me begin to slip away.
When I open my eyes, the sun is burning high and bright through the mangy curtains in my bedroom. My legs swing over the bed and I trot to the bathroom to take a piss. I get there and the door is closed, but I can hear Flynn humming loudly.
“Don’t take all day bud. I’ve gotta pee like a racehorse.”
“You can come in,” he shouts back. “I’m not doing anything important.”
I shrug and open the door to find Flynn sitting atop a man with his hands wrapped around his throat. His eyes are bulging and his arms flail uncontrollably as he tries to breath in any air that he can. The struggle lasts on for about three minutes as Flynn grins eagerly with sweat dripping from his narrow brow. To no avail, the man’s body goes limp and his eyes roll slowly to the back of his head. With his eyes transfixed on the man’s soulless body, Flynn lets out a sigh of relief as he stands, dusting himself off.
“Well that’s a great way to start the morning,” he grins.
“Who the fuck was that guy!”
“Oh him? He’s just some nerd I saw in the hall. I asked him if he could help me move a cabinet from the bathroom and, of course, he said yes because, let’s face it, who could resist this smile? I get him in here, show him to the bathroom and then I proceed to strangle the life out of him and that’s all before noon!”
It takes me a minute to get a grasp on the situation and myself because I don’t want to continue screaming at him. My neighbors certainly do not need to know about the morning activities that happen in my apartment. The reason I’m upset is not that he killed some guy, because that’s kind of his thing, but because he killed him in my house.
“What the fuck are we gonna do with his body,” I ask dropping into a squat to look more closely at the lifeless man. I didn’t get to examine much of the alley girl last night due to a lack of time, but now I can really see what a dead body looks like up close.
“This is your first lesson,” he says cheerfully crouching down next to me. “How do you successfully get rid of a body? There are tons of ways to do it, but it all depends on location, location, location.”
“We’re in a rundown apartment building in one of the ghettos of Chicago; I don’t think location is exactly on our fucking side right now.”
“Ah, but it is,” he says standing up. “This apartment building has no cameras. You live in such a terrible neighborhood that hardly anyone is out at day or night, and it already smells like the rotting asshole of a pig around here, so the stench of the decomposing body won’t affect anyone.”
I hate to admit it, but the son of a bitch has a point. For all I know this could very well be the umpteenth body killed in this neighborhood and I don’t even know it.
“Okay then,” I say, starting to go along with the situation. “How are we gonna get rid of it?”
“How do you think we should get rid of it?” he refutes.
“Well, judging from my last adventure, I know that putting the body behind a dumpster would do us no good.”
“Right you are, my friend. Ditching a body in a dumpster is way too old school. Homeless people rummage through them all the time. They come across a dead body and they’re off to the cops, trying to get some kind of a reward for a murder they didn’t see. It gets way too messy. Then there’s the chance of the body being seen as it’s going into the back of a dump trunk or something, so a dumpster is always out of the question. What else have you got?”
“We could chop him up into smaller pieces, maybe.”
“I’m assuming you just happen to have a bone saw laying around your apartment because, if you do, we could definitely do that. Of course, we would have to drain the fluids from the body, yank all of his teeth out and flush them, burn the fingerprints off of his fingers, and lime away his face so that he’s completely unrecognizable. We’ve got a whole afternoon for that, but I don’t think you’re quite at that skill level, bud.”
As I sit on the edge of the bathtub playing with my fingers, he stares back at me, anticipating my next idea. What I have in mind is a long shot, but I think it’s worth mentioning anyway.
“There’s a pond in this neighborhood, believe it or not. It isn’t a huge one, but it’s deep and it’s secluded. Well, it’s kind of secluded, but what are our chances of ditching the body there?”
He starts a slow sympathetic clap as I roll my eyes at him.
“Now you’re thinking like a murderer,” he grins. “That pond is exactly what I had in mind. It’s a short distance from your place, but how do we transport the body and how do we keep it from resurfacing?”
I rub my beard as I think the duo of questions over, standing to pace back and forth outside the bathroom door. Flynn taps his watch at me, as he takes a seat on our victim’s chest. He wants me to figure this out on my own instead of just telling. Even though it’s frustrating, it’s necessary for me to figure these things out, so I don’t screw up further down the road.
“We could wait until later tonight to transport the body. It’ll be quite a few hours before we can do that, but the stench won’t be bad at all, so long as we keep it covered and in this room. There’s a trail that we could take my car on to get to the pond. We tie some cinder blocks around his legs and make him sleep with the fishes.”
He looks up to the ceiling and taps his chin as he thinks the idea over.
“I like where you’re going, but I’m gonna spruce it up a bit. We can still wait until tonight to move the body, but in the meantime, we can prep it for drop off. Instead of cinder blocks we’re gonna use concrete. We’ll concrete his hands, feet, and his head. By doing so we’ll add more weight to be able to hold him down and destroy his face in the process. Using a tube, we’ll feed concrete through his mouth to fill his insides just to be safe and then we’ll tie cinderblocks to his feet and ditch him.”
“Flynn, you are one twisted mother fucker.”
We both laugh and swap high fives, excited for the plan we’ve drawn up.
“Let’s get a bed sheet over this body,” he says. “Then, we can go to the store and get supplies. Maybe even get some breakfast on the way.”
“That sounds good to me, but I just thought of something. If we concrete the body here, it’s gonna be super heavy to move to my car and probably won’t fit in a bag or anything. Should we just concrete the body at the pond?”
“It’s a good idea, but we face a much higher risk that way, because we would have to concrete the body there and wait for it to set up before dumping it.”
“Well how long does it take for the concrete to set up?”
“The brand that I use sets up in about twenty-five minutes, but we have to do layers of it on his feet, hands and head to make it heavy enough. I think doing it here will be our best bet.”
That still doesn’t answer the question of how we move the body, but then I get an idea.
“The garbage chutes! We’ll concrete the body then carry it and drop it down the garbage chute on this floor. It’s wide enough to easily fit the body in. Once we drop it, I’ll move my car around and we can grab it and ditch it in the pond.”
“Now you’re talking. I didn’t even think of that, so good job on you for that one, dude. The body landing on top of a pile of trash shouldn’t break the concrete either, so I think it’s a solid idea.”
We wrap the body in a bed sheet and tie the ends off with some old belts that I’ve been meaning to get rid of. We discuss where we should leave it for the next few hours while we’re out, and both agree that hiding it under my bed is the best idea.
As we carry the body from the bathroom to my bedroom, I notice that it isn’t as heavy as I thought it would be. With the added weight of the concrete, that will change later. After we get it all nice and tucked away, we scour the bathroom for any traces of him, just to cover our tracks.
I feel good–great actually. I don’t feel bad about what we just did or what we are going to do later. The guy is dead, so there is no sense in feeling sorry about it because that won’t change anything. Flynn looks happy about everything, too. He has a big smile on his face, dancing around in his sweater and dark denim jeans like he just won the lottery or something. I snort at how silly he looks and join in with him. We’re dancing around to the sound of nothing but our laughter and it’s easily one of the greatest moments of my life.
“Alright,” he says, letting out a sigh, “go get dressed so we can get a move on. I’m feeling pancakes and it’s gonna be my treat.”
I take a quick shower and throw on the first clean shirt and pants that I see once I get out. I find Flynn doing handstands in my tiny kitchen, trying his hardest not to knock over my tower of beer cans on the counter.
Before leaving the apartment building, I take him to where the garbage chute is on my floor just to show him. It’s not enormous by any means, but we will be able to fit the body down it. He smiles and gives me a wink of approval before we continue down the stairs to the main entrance.
Just as Flynn had mentioned earlier, it’s broad daylight out and the streets of my neighborhood are desolate. There are no cars parked on the roads or even driving down them. I never realized how sketchy it is over here, until he pointed it out. It makes me feel grateful that my building has a shabby little parking garage.
The air outside has a nice bite to it, but it’s not too bad. There’s no need for layers in this October weather, which is surprising for the Fall season in Chicago. We arrive at the red line train station and pay the ridiculous $5.25 to board. It’s practically robbery, paying that much for public transportation, but the city needs to create a consistent system of revenue one way or another, I suppose.
The train isn’t as crowded as I thought it would be, for a Saturday morning. It is standing room only, but we’re not all pressed into one another and fighting for space. The ride should only take about fifteen minutes, but it seems like we’ve been on the train forever. We’re going to an area called Rivernorth to this little café that has the best pancakes I’ve ever had in my life. I haven’t had many pancakes to compare to them, but I’m confident that no others top these.
The train gets to our stop and we shuffle our way onto the platform and up the stairs to the bustling streets. The café isn’t too far of a walk from the train station so we strut off in that direction. Traffic is at a standstill and the sidewalks are filled with people, everywhere we turn. I love the rush of city life. Growing up on the countryside or in the suburbs or something probably would have driven me crazy.
“So, do you have a girlfriend?” Flynn asks.
The question takes me by surprise. I can feel my cheeks going tender as I try to answer.
“Well..uhm…it’s kind of hard to explain I guess.”
“What do you mean,” he laughs. “It’s just a simple yes or no.”
“It’s a no, then,” I start, “but, I guess I should probably tell you now that I’m bisexual, Flynn.”
“Yeah, I hope that doesn’t freak you out or anything.”
He stops in the middle of the sidewalk, grabs me by the shoulders and looks me right in the eyes before he begins to speak.
“I’ll never have a problem with 90% of the choices you make. Do what makes you happy and fuck anyone that disagrees. That’s how I live my life and I think it’s doing me just fine.”
We arrive at the café a few minutes later and the place is absolutely rocking, so we’re added to the waitlist. Servers rush by perfectly balancing trays of food, coffee, and mimosas, like something out of a circus. Flynn sits next to me fidgeting impatiently. After a while, he gets up and walks outside to pace back and forth.
“These pancakes better be worth it,” he says returning to his seat next to me. “We’ve already been waiting for thirty minutes.”
“I promise you, they will blow your mind,” I smile trying to get him to calm down.
“Flynn, party of two,” the hostess shouts with menus in hand.
“That’s us,” I smile as she leads us to a table on the right side of the restaurant, near a larger group of people.
Our server brings over a pitcher of water for us and she’s absolutely beautiful. Her thick brown hair falls just past her shoulders and her caramel eyes are the most inviting I have ever seen. If perfection were a person, I know it would be her.
“My name is Agave and I’ll be taking care of you guys,” she speaks loudly over the noise of the restaurant. “Our special today is going to be banana nut pancakes served with eggs cooked any way you’d like and three pieces of our house cut maple bacon.”
Her voice makes my heart melt like butter. It’s soft, yet aggressive at the same time, but not in a harsh way. Flynn has to nudge me in the shoulder because I’m gawking at her with my mouth hanging wide open.
“Ahem, oh I’m sorry,” I say embarrassed by my dorkiness. “I’ll just start with some orange juice for now while we look at the menu.”
“Okay, how about you sir,” she says, turning to Flynn.
“I’ll take a cappuccino for now.”
“I’ll get those drinks going for you guys, and will be back to get your order.”
She turns to walk away and my eyes are glued.
“Take it easy there,” Flynn says shaking his head. “You were practically fucking her with your eyes.”
“Oh, sorry,” I laugh nervously. “She’s just really attractive.”
“You should ask her out then.”
“There’s no way a girl like her would go for a guy like me. Never in a million years.”
“Where’s your confidence man? You’ll never know until you give it a try.”
I bury my face in the menu to avoid the question. Looking up a couple seconds later, I see Flynn smirking at me, but I just ignore him. Right now, attempting to fill the bottomless pit that is my stomach is more important. Whenever I’m here, I always get the strawberries and cream pancakes, but today I feel like switching it up. The café has these really awesome cardamom pancakes that everyone raves about, so I think I’ll try those.
“What are you having Flynn?”
“Not quite sure yet. I’m torn between the pancake burrito and the Belgium waffles. What about you?”
“I’m gonna have the cardamom pancakes. I’ve heard pretty good things about them.”
“Those sounds delicious, but I think I’ll go for the burrito.”
Agave comes back over and gets our order for us. Twenty minutes later, and we’re in breakfast heaven. I don’t think Flynn and I say more than two words to each other through our stuffed mouths while we eat.
“Dude, you weren’t kidding when you said this place had the best pancakes ever. I’ve never had anything more amazing than that pancake burrito.”
“I’m pretty stuffed, too. The cardamom pancakes weren’t as good as my usual, but I see why they’re so well favored around here.”
“Did you guys enjoy everything?” Agave asks, sneaking up behind us with more water.
“It was all amazing,” Flynn says.
“I’m glad you liked it. The pancake burrito is one of my favorites. Do you fellas have any fun plans for your Saturday?”
“We actually don’t have too much planned today,” Flynn says, speaking for the both of us. “Just doing some tiling in his bathroom, then probably watching the game. How about yourself?”
“I’m working a double today, but I’ll be off around 7-ish. A friend and I are going out for some drinks later tonight, once I’m off.”
“That sounds like a good time,” he says turning and smiling at me.
She stands there playing with her hair and shifting the weight of her body between her legs before continuing.
“I know this is pretty forward and I never do this, especially while I’m working, but would you two like to join us?”
I damn near choke on my orange juice from her question.
“We would uh ahem- I…uh Flynn what do you think?”
At this point, both of them are laughing at me and my face looks like burning embers.
“We’d love to join you, Agave,” he answers for us.
“Awesome! Here’s my number,” she says writing it down on the back of our receipt. “Just shoot me a text or call after 7.”
“Sounds like a plan. I’m Flynn by the way and this is-”
“Oh, I know who he is. You work at the zoo, right?”
“Yeah that’s me.” My voice cracks sharply as I answer her.
“I thought it was. I always see you every time I’m there, but get too shy to say anything. Hopefully we can get to know each other tonight.”
Before I can find the words to say anything, she turns and leaves us with a smile and a wave, as she saunters off to greet another table.
“Well, well, well,” Flynn muses, “looks like the girl that would never go for you in a million years is actually interested.”
“She must be just as crazy as the two of us. Are we really going to hang out with her tonight?”
“Of course, we are! We’ll go home and concrete the body then continue with our plans tonight after hanging with the ladies. One thing you must remember is that what we do can never interfere with living a ‘normal’ life. That’s how people get caught up. They start to lean more into that dark side and end up losing control of themselves completely. I’m not gonna let that happen to you. Balancing your private and public life is one of the things that’s going to help you not lose yourself. Keep that in mind, alright?”
“I will. Let’s get home and grab my car so we can get to the store. I doubt we’ll be able to carry the amount of concrete we’re gonna buy on the train.”
The train ride home goes by fairly quickly because we both take a short nap, due to being so stuffed. When we get back to my place, I check on the body under the bed. There’s no odor coming from it, but I light a few candles and place them around the house just to be safe.
“Alright,” Flynn shouts, “let’s go buy supplies and get down to the dirty work. I hope you’re a good driver, because I get carsick pretty easily.”
“Don’t worry, you’re definitely not the first person to throw up in my shithole of a car. It looks like crap both inside and out, but it drives like a beauty.”
“What kind of car do you have?”
“Well, let’s get to her and I’ll show you.”
We leave my apartment and start racing down the stairs, but there’s a bum blocking our way down. He looks pretty beaten up, like he has just gotten into a fight or something.
“You alright man?” I ask him.
“They got me! Those sons of bitches got me!”
“Who? Who got you?”
“They call themselves The Iron Gates,” he says through a coughing fit. “They’re a gang of young hooligans that go around causing problems all over town. They do this thing every couple of months where all day they go and beat up on anyone they feel like. I was picking through the trash outback, like I do every Saturday, to get some cans to take to the scrap metal yard and those fuckers attacked me.”
The guy is completely shaken up. Looking closer, I can see he has quite a few cuts on his face and hands that are bleeding.
“Would you recognize these guys if you saw them again?” Flynn asks, with his fist balled.
“There were so many of them, at least five or more, but I did catch a few faces.”
“That’s all we need. Get up; we’re going after them.”
“Hold on Flynn. We can’t just go out and beat up on a bunch of kids.”
“Is it okay for those kids to run around beating up on defenseless people like this man? Someone has to teach the little assholes a lesson.”
“That someone is the cops, Flynn. We can help him file a report, but I don’t think we should get involved.”
“These cops don’t give a damn about people like me,” the man yells. “You think this is the first time a crime has been committed against the homeless, because it’s not. People fuck with us all the time and no one ever does anything about it.” He turns toward Flynn and continues his plea for help. “If you’re serious about getting these guys, I’ll point out who I remember. They should still be hanging around here. If not I’ll let it go, but if they are, then I’m asking for your help, please?”
I look the man in the eyes and can see that he’s desperate, afraid even. Flynn stares back at me, impatiently tapping his foot, awaiting my response. I don’t know why I’m so hesitant to the situation. It’s not like I’ve never been in a fight before. I want to be a murderer; one of the best there ever was or will be, so I need to toughen up a bit more and start cracking a few skulls just for the hell of it. Why not do something to help someone this time around?
“Alright,” I sigh. “Let’s go get these punks.”
We help the man to his feet and down the stairs. As we’re walking he tells us his name is Richard, but he’s known around town as Homeless Rich. He grew up here in Chicago and had a pretty solid life until his wife divorced him and took everything he owned in the trial. He went through depression after the divorce and developed a drinking problem that left him in debt, with no place to go besides the streets. His own family wanted nothing to do with him.
Outside he leads us just a block over to where the guys ran off after they attacked him. It’s the same direction of the pond we are going to be utilizing later tonight.
“Are you a good fighter?” Flynn asks.
“I’ve had my fair share. Won some, lost some and the others I don’t remember.”
“I was on the wrestling team my junior year of high school, but I’m much more of a street fighter. All that grappling and submission crap was boring. I wanted to make people bleed so I quit not long after joining.”
“Good to know.”
“I bet I can kick your ass,” he taunts, throwing a couple of soft punches at me.
“Save your talking for those little punks,” Homeless Rich says, pointing to a group of people.
“Is that them?” Flynn and I ask in unison.
“That’s them alright.”
From where we are standing we make out five guys total. They don’t look like kids, though. Teenagers for sure, but at least eighteen.
“You ready?” Flynn asks stretching his arms behind his back.
“Damn right I am. Rich, you stay here alright? Keep look out, should anyone come around or anything.”
We start walking toward the group of guys and get about fifteen feet away from them before they notice us and begin to do the same. It’s easy to figure out who’s in charge because he’s ahead of them by a few steps. A deep gash works its way from the upper left side of his neck to just under his chin where the wound gets lost in his beard. Red and scabbed over, I can tell it is only a couple days old. Looks like this guy is no stranger to getting hurt.
“What the fuck do you guys wa–,” he tries to speak.
Before he can finish his sentence, Flynn’s fist smashes into his face, sending a spew of blood into the stale air. His friends watch as he lies on the ground, holding his nose in pain.
“Don’t just stand there, rip them apart,” he shouts at his accomplices.
Shaking the blood off of his knuckles, Flynn looks up at the guys and nonchalantly asks them, “Who’s next?”
Neither of us give them time to think about answering because we move in on them seconds later. Delivering a knee to the guy already on the ground, Flynn charges in quickly, hitting the others hard and knocking them back with ease. I’m just as quick, only not as strong, but the two of us seem to be managing well.
One of the guys gives me a good right hook to my jaw. The punch makes me stumble, but it’s going to take a lot more than that to get me down. I throw a punch that puts him on his ass so I get on top of him and give him a few more. One of his buddies tackles me off of him and starts to pummel my ribs. I block my face and use my lower body to try and knock him off balance. He has at least thirty extra pounds on me, but the punches he’s throwing are putting all his weight on one side of his body. His left hand comes up for another punch, but I thrust my hips as his hand is in the air, which makes him drop his guard. Once he opens up, I give him a jab right to the eye and push him off of me. I stand up and start to kick him over and over until I know he won’t be getting back up.
I look over at Flynn and he’s fighting off the last two guys. He has one of them in a choke hold as the other guy bashes him repeatedly from behind. I tackle the fucker to the ground and we stay there, fighting for control over one another. He delivers blow after blow to my face, but I’m not giving up. The taste of blood flooding my mouth only makes me to want to kick his ass even more. I find the strength to shove him off me and stand up, wiping the away red substance. He moves into a kneeling position in an effort to stand and looks me in the eyes before my knee connects with his chin. He’s out as soon as I make contact, right on time as Flynn finishes off the last guy.
“You guys aren’t so tough when you’re not going around jumping on random guys are you?” Flynn screams. “Let this be a lesson to you bunch of pussies!”
We look at one another and burst into laughter. I can feel my lips swelling as blood drips from my mouth and onto the ground. His sweater is now a tattered and grass-stained mess. He still uses it to wipe the sweat from his brow and the blood from his knuckles as we walk back over to where Homeless Rich watches from behind a tree.
“You guys tore them to shreds,” he exclaims. “I can’t thank you enough. After this ass kicking, those punks won’t be picking on anyone anytime soon. Thank you again.”
“No problem, Rich,” I smile, cracking my neck. “I think me and Flynn enjoyed it anyways.”
“I have to get back to collecting my cans before the scrap metal yard closes. Anytime you fellas need anything, you come find Homeless Rich. I’m forever indebted to you for your help.”
He gives us both a hug then runs off to scavenge for more cans.
“Come on,” Flynn nudges me, “we’ve got to get cleaned up and get to the store. No more detours.”
We jog back to my apartment as the wind nips at us. As sore as we are from the fight, it doesn’t bother us much. It’s one of those feel-good pains. The rickety elevator creaks loudly as we take it up to my floor. I start stripping from the dirty clothes, washing my face and get changed up as soon as we get inside. Flynn borrows some of my clothes and does the same. Fifteen minutes later and we are both ready to go. The body is doing just fine under the bed, so we don’t need to bother with it. The apartment is starting to smell like a scented pine cone aisle, so I blow the candles out before we leave.
In the parking garage, we hop in my beat up 98’ Ford Explorer. The paint is terrible, one of my side view mirrors has a crack going right through it, my front bumper is banged up pretty bad and it smells like the carcass of a zebra on the inside, but despite all of that, it has great gas mileage and gets me where I need to go.
“You must have very little self-respect for yourself to be seen driving around in this thing,” Flynn says, as he opens the creaking passenger door.
Neither of us talk much during the drive. I guess we’re both just tired from the hell of an afternoon we’ve had.
Once we get to the store, before going in, we make a game plan of what we need to buy so we can split up and not look so suspicious.
“What exactly do we need to mix the concrete with?” I ask.
“Well, it’s pretty simple actually. All we need is cement, water, and a rock and sand mixture. The cement you need to get is called Vicment. It’s the instant brand that I use when I take this route to get rid of a body.
“How many times have you gotten rid of a body this way?”
“More times than I can count, but anyways, you also need to grab two packs of rubber gloves and the biggest trash bags you can find. I’ll get the rock and sand mixture and a couple buckets to mix the concrete in.”
He leaves the car and I wait a few minutes before going in after him just to be safe. The store smells of hardwood and fresh sawdust when I step inside. It makes my nose itch and before I know it, I’m letting out beast-like sneezes. My eyes are starting to water a little, but I’ll be alright.
The store isn’t too big, so finding everything I need shouldn’t be difficult, especially since there are little numbers hanging above each aisle that list what I’ll find down each one. I strut down aisle seven to grab trash bags and rubber gloves. Flynn passes by the adjacent aisle and makes a face at me. Laughing to myself, I carry on to aisle four to get the cement. Each bag of the brand that Flynn wants is fifteen pounds. I pick up three of them and throw them in the cart. Shopping trip done.
At the register, there’s an older man in front me. He looks to be around his early forties or late thirties. Messy brown hair peeks through his red, white and blue Cubs baseball cap. A large circular birthmark adorns the left side of his face and his teeth instantly give away that he is a fan of chewing tobacco. Oil stains cover the red flannel and faded denim jeans he wears and from that observation it’s easy to assume that he’s a mechanic. He seems to be having some kind of argument with the cashier.
“Listen here you prick, I don’t care what your computer says, the sign back there says $12.99, so that’s what you’re going to charge me or are we going to have a problem?”
The cashier is a timid little guy who has to be at most seventeen. He looks like he’s going to burst into tears after being screamed at by the mechanic, but he holds his ground. Resting his glasses back upon his face and flashing the man a mouth full of braces, he offers up his defense.
“I’m sorry sir, but in my system the product price shows as $21.99. I have to follow what’s in the system as it is the most up to date on our cost. It’s $21.99 or I can’t sell you the product.”
If there isn’t smoke coming from this guy’s ears, then I must be hallucinating. Rocking back and forth, he and the cashier stare one another down for a couple seconds. He’s thinking long and hard on what he’s going to say and do next, as myself and a few others in the store watch intently.
“Fine, but you just wait on it, boy,” he says leaning into the cashier’s face. “Your black ass is dead.”
He throws the package down and leaves without another word.
“Thanks for shopping with us, sir! Have a great day!”
“You’ve got some balls, kid. Nice job standing up to that asshole,” I say, putting my stuff on the conveyor belt.
“Thanks. It’s not the first time I’ve had to go at it with a customer and I’m sure it won’t be the last. Did you find everything alright today?”
“$69.34 is your total. Will you be paying cash or card?”
I hand him a $100-dollar bill and he fumbles with the register to give me change.
“Thanks for shopping with us. Have a great day, sir.”
As I’m pushing the cart over to my car, I see the mechanic outside talking to someone. They both look pretty shady through their mannerisms, so I can tell something is about to go down. It’s the middle of the afternoon, so I doubt these guys are stupid enough to try anything, but you never know.
While loading stuff into the trunk, Flynn walks up next to me with his cart and starts to do the same.
“Well, that was easy,” he says.
“Yeah man, it was a total walk in the park. There was some drama at the register with the guy over there in the dirty red flannel. He told the kid that he was dead.”
“I guess it sucks to be that kid, then,” he says impassively.
I can’t be upset because he’s right. We can’t go around being vigilantes for everyone. What happened with Homeless Rich was different. He was completely defenseless and outnumbered. This kid has a store full of people that can help him out if something goes down, not to mention the cops will give a damn about him more than a homeless guy anyway. For those reasons, we return our carts and start on home.
The drive back has a bit more traffic, so I try to make some conversation with him.
“Have you ever seen a psychiatrist?”
“Not even one,” he replies. “How about you?”
“I have a couple times, when I was sixteen. She wanted to make it a regular thing, but I stopped going.”
“Why did you stop?”
“I started working. Felt like saving money was more important than someone in a chair telling me everything is going to be okay.”
“Why do you ask?”
I guess now would be the perfect time to talk to him about what’s been on my mind since we met.
“Well, I guess I just want to know why your mind is so dark? Why do you kill people? What sparked it? I know it’s due to the cruelty of the kids you grew up with and your mom’s drug addiction, but I feel like it’s more than just that.”
“I knew this conversation would be coming, but not this soon.”
“I’ll be honest with you if you’re honest with me, Flynn. That’s the only way we’re gonna work well together.”
“You’re right. I’m glad I found you and I’m glad we’re on this crazy, fucked up adventure together. The first time I killed someone it was out of anger. It wasn’t clean and easy, but I got away with it and it made me feel unstoppable. The other times after that it was because I got an urge; a feeling to have power over someone. I was no longer angry, but I still needed to be more careful and less sporadic. I needed to learn how to think and plan for every possible error and to ensure that those errors never occurred.
“Now, I see murder as a sport because I can control that urge and think carefully of my actions instead of in the moment. How many people can I kill before getting caught? How can I make this kill better than the last or how can I recreate a kill I’ve already done? It’s fun to me. That’s the only way I can describe it.
“I’ve always loved those gory horror movies and murder novels growing up. I would spend hours watching all those different true crime and cops shows. I’d study them and would watch how the killers were caught. What they screwed up on and such. The major thing they all had in common was that they couldn’t figure out reality. They’d get so stuck in their own head that they would start to mess up. I meditate, I do yoga, I exercise regularly and I live a completely ‘normal’ life to the public. That’s why I have yet to screw up, because I take it seriously in that moment and then, once it’s over, I move on with my life. Does any of that make sense to you?”
“It makes a lot of sense, honestly. When I was seeing that psychiatrist, in the beginning all she did was try and teach me ways to handle my depression and anger, but then something changed.”
“What do you mean?”
“Our last two sessions together were really weird. It started out like usual. She would ask me about my week at school and being at the foster home. I’d tell her I hate it, and then she’d ask if I have been using the techniques she’s taught me, and I would lie and say I haven’t, even though I had been.”
“Why would you lie about that?”
“Because I was afraid that if I showed improvement, the foster home would stop my sessions. I wanted to spend as little time in that place as possible.”
“So, there’s more to why you stopped going other than you picking up a job?”
“Exactly. After I told her I haven’t been using the techniques, she started talking about the importance of doing that and how that’s the only way I’d get better. Usually after that we would talk about what I want for myself and blah blah blah, but this time she brings out a Bible and starts reading verses and praying for me. This went on for like thirty minutes. At the end of the session, she gave me a hug and I went home.
“The next week, I arrived on time for my session, like usual, and I could tell something was off with her when I walked into her office. She immediately locked the door once I sat down and that never happens. Then, she pulled out her Bible and started to read verses and pray again. I didn’t get any questions from her at all, not even a ‘hello’. So, I’m just sitting there, while she’s praying and the next thing I know she starts screaming and saying that my soul needs to be cleansed. It came out of nowhere. She banged her Bible on the desk while she screamed, but kept her head down. The screaming didn’t last long, but what really freaked me out was when she looked up at me there were tears streaming down her face and her eyes were bloodshot red. I was terrified, so I ran out of her office and waited outside to be picked up. I didn’t tell anyone at the foster care what happened, just that I wanted to get a job and stop going to therapy. I never saw that woman again.”
“Do you want to do this?”
“Do I want to do what?”
“This, do you want to be a murderer? Can you handle all that this entails and not blow it for us? I need to know that you don’t feel pressured and that you’re in the right mindset to continue with me helping you.”
“Of course, I want to continue, Flynn.”
“Why? Why do you want to be a murderer? What is it that drives you to want to get involved in this kind of life? To risk going to jail? To risk being killed yourself? It must be something, man.”
“I enjoy hurting others and having that sense of power that it brings just like you do, but, ultimately, I don’t know why I want to be a murderer. I honestly don’t have a motive. I don’t look at society and want to take my shitty life out on them or anything. I find most people to generally be annoying and believe that humans are an extremely destructive and inconsiderate species, but that’s really the only reason I have to hate anyone. I guess I just want to because it seems fun. I get an urge and just like you, once it’s done, it’s done. I move on like it never happened.”
“Fine, but understand that there’s no backing out now.”
“I never planned on backing out, so let’s just get on with getting rid of the body under my bed.”
It takes us seven minutes after that to make it back to my place. I don’t know if the discussion we had was an argument or not, but I’m not angry or even slightly upset. I’m happy the two of us got everything out in the open. I’m hoping it makes anything else we’re going to go through a lot easier.
We take the elevator up to my floor with our bags of supplies at our feet. I fumble with my keys for a few seconds before finally getting them free from being wedged in my wallet. Once I get the door open, Flynn playfully nudges me inside, brushes past me and gets right to work.
He starts to mix the concrete ingredients as I drag the body from under the bed. A slight odor has formed, but it isn’t too bad. If we do something about it now, it’ll be fine.
“I’m relighting the candles,” I shout as I walk to the kitchen to grab a few beers from the fridge. When I come back, he has moved the mixture over near the body and is ready to begin.
“Alright,” he says holding his hand out for a beer, “we’re only going to mix a little bit at a time so that it doesn’t solidify all at once before we can use it. Let’s start with the hands first. Put the gloves on, grab some of the mixture and start to smear it on. Get it nice and covered, then move on to the next body part. Got it?”
The concrete mixture feels weird, like sticking your fingers in a bucket of putty. When I put it on his hands, it slides right off. Flynn has to show me how to manipulate it and it takes me ten minutes to get one layer on his left hand, before moving on to the right hand. Once I get in the groove, we move on to his feet in a matter of minutes.
As he continues to work, I feel the body all over. His skin is cold to the touch, but not as cold as I was expecting it to be. It’s more like the feeling you get right when you step out of the shower. The unresponsiveness of the body is what amazes me the most. Lifting his arms and tilting his head doesn’t faze him at all. I feel like a kid in a candy store just looking at him and I want more.
By the time we finish his feet, both hands have set up, so we go back to them for the next layer, then on to his head and back to the feet. As we repeat this process, it’s incredible to see the blobs of concrete grow with each layer we add on.
“I’ll be honest Flynn, I had my doubts about this method of yours, but it seems to be working pretty damn well.”
“It’s one of my favorites to use. Works like a charm.”
“Should we start filling the stomach?”
“We shall,” he says grabbing the tube from behind him.
He forces the tube pretty far down the guy’s throat before adding a bit more water to the mixture, so that it will be able to pass through quicker.
“By adding more water, this means that it will take longer to set up in his stomach. We’re going to send a lot of it through there, probably a whole bucket or more, so it’ll take a few hours.”
“We’ve got nothing but time on our hands,” I laugh as I grab the funnel.
“Now, you’re gonna pour the mixture into the funnel while I’m holding it. Don’t pour too fast, just nice and easy so it can all make it to where we need it to go.
I pass him the funnel and we both stand up to extend the tube, so that it’s straight up and down with a slight curve where it enters the man’s mouth. The mixture comes out in one steady stream as I pour. It’s much thinner than what we smeared over the rest of his body. The tube starts to get backed up, so I ease up a bit to let it work its way down, then get right back to it.
We go through one full bucket and do half of another, just to be safe. Once we finish filling his stomach, we spend another hour and a half doing more layers around the hands, feet and head. There is no way this guy is going to find his way back to the surface of the pond once we drop him in there.
“Alright, I think we’re done and it’s only 6:13 p.m.,” Flynn says checking his watch.
“Agave said to give her call after seven. We should get cleaned up and ready for the ladies.
“Mind if I borrow your car to go back to my place? I’ll get cleaned and dressed there and meet you back here.”
“Just be careful with her,” I say tossing him my keys. “She’s the only girl to stay in my life for more than a month.”
“I think Agave is going to be a close second, after tonight,” he winks.
I drape another sheet over the body and leave it lying there in the center of my bedroom. Now it’s just me drinking a beer and chilling with a dead body covered in cement, as I listen to the apartment door open and close. Totally normal Saturday plans.
I never really give much thought to what I wear because I never “dress to impress”, but seeing how Agave is the most beautiful girl to ever speak to me, I want to put forth some effort to look good tonight. Nothing too dressy, but any old t-shirt won’t cut it tonight. I may have a couple of nice button-downs and some pretty cool sweaters too, but my wardrobe typically isn’t that exciting.
Reaching inside my closet, I monotonously move tops from right to left, completely unenthused by my options. As I’m getting ready to go through the cluster of clothes for a second time, I hear someone knock at the door. I know it isn’t Flynn back this soon and I never get any visitors here so I’m a little hesitant as I walk closer to the rhythmic thumping.
I open the door to a little Filipino woman, who looks absolutely panic-stricken. Shaking uncontrollably, with tears streaming down her cheeks, she holds a picture of a man up to my face.
“Have you seen my son? I sent him to the store this morning, but he never returned. It’s so unlike him. I’ve talked to the police, but they said they can’t do anything unless he’s been gone for more than forty-eight hours so I have to knock on doors myself.”
Looking at the picture, it’s not hard to realize that her dead son is in my bedroom.
“I’m sorry ma’am, but I haven’t seen him. If I do, I will let you know.”
“Thank you for your kindness,” she chokes. “Have a great day.”
She starts to walk away, but I call her back over.
“Would you like a drink, just something to calm your nerves a little? I know you’re worried about your son, but I think it’ll help.”
She looks me up and down before shrugging her shoulders as I step aside to welcome her in.
“I’m sorry the place is such a mess. It’s been a pretty busy week for me.”
“It’s alright. My apartment is no better either. I work so much sometimes that it’s hard to find any free time to do anything besides sleep.”
“What do you do,” I ask, unscrewing the top off of a cheap bottle of wine.
“I’m a yoga instructor and a swim coach for a high school.”
“That’s pretty awesome. I work at a zoo as a groundskeeper.”
“My ex-husband used to do the same for a few years. He’d always come home smelling like all sorts of animals. It got so bad sometimes that, even after showering, I’d make him sleep on the couch because the smell never fully went away.”
“Hope you like Merlot,” I laugh, handing her a glass.
“I love it.”
As she’s drinking the wine and talking with me, her jitters begin to settle. She’s no longer crying or shaking, but her son is all she can talk about.
“My Jacob is the sweetest my most caring man there is. He genuinely sees the good in absolutely everyone. I remember a few years back there was a gun threat at his high school. He was in the classroom with the young man that had a pistol pointed at him and the other children. Jacob spoke to him for an hour and was able to get him to not harm anyone. He even visited him in prison during his trial, just because he believed that even though that young man made a mistake, he wasn’t a bad person. Nineteen lives were saved that day in his classroom. If anything’s happened to him, I don’t know what I’d do. All we have in this city is each other. The rest of our family is back in the Philippines.”
I touch her hand as she speaks and let tears well up in my eyes from her stories of Jacob. Pouring her more wine, I reassure her that he will turn up safe and sound.
“Maybe he’s just gone out with some friends and forgot to mention it.”
“His only friends are just a few people he grew up here with. I’ve called them all and they haven’t heard from him.”
“It’s going to be alright.”
She stays for another thirty minutes chatting with me before saying she has to continue looking for Jacob.
“Thank you for your hospitality,” she says, walking toward the door. “I’ll have to cook dinner for you some time to repay you.”
“I’ll bring the wine.”
“That sounds wonderful to me. My name is Sicilia by the way, Sicilia Auwe. I don’t think I got yours.”
“It doesn’t matter.”
She pulls her face into a perplexed pout, scoffing as she says, “Excuse me?”
My hands clamp on to her throat, forcing her body back against the wall near the door. She kicks and throws feeble punches at me, but the tiny woman’s efforts are useless. Raspy gurgles ring from her mouth as she struggles to breath, my grip on her getting tighter on her twig-like neck. Two minutes is all it takes to deliver her the same fate that her son acquired hours ago. It was easy; like it was meant to happen.
Her body slumps to the ground with a soft thud, as I stand over her wearing that gnarled grin of satisfaction. I want another victim and I can’t wait. I want to snap another neck or slit another throat. Hell, I’d even settle for stabbing the life out of someone right now just to get my hands dirty. I grab the bottle of wine and start to chug it. Looking over at the clock, it reads 7:20. Flynn will be back soon, so I have to shower, get ready, and calm this blood hungry savage inside of me.
I take an old sheet from my closet to wrap Sicilia’s body in, before dragging her next to her son. Flynn walks in as I shut the bedroom door behind me.
“Hey man, you ready to get going?”
“Not quite. I got a little sidetracked, but it’ll only take me about twenty minutes to get ready.”
Flynn sees the look in my eyes and can tell what I’ve done. He smiles at me and asks where the body is.
“It’s in the bedroom,” I tell him. “Right next to her son.”
“No fucking way! How’d you get his mom?”
I tell him how she came knocking at my door, looking for him, and that I offered her some wine to calm her down.
“As soon as she was at the door and getting ready to leave, I choked her out.”
“I don’t know man. It’s an awesome kill and all, but maybe you shouldn’t have done anything without me. How are we going to get rid of two bodies tonight? If we do the concrete again, then we’ll miss our chance with the ladies.”
“I’ve already figured that out. We don’t have enough time to do the concrete process on her so we’re going to throw her in the furnace in the basement tonight. Yes, the smell will be terrible–as if this building and neighborhood don’t already smell rancid–but everyone will be asleep and it’ll be too late for anyone to call building management anyways. By morning, most of the body will have been disintegrated to ashes. We go back, sweep up the mess and ditch it. I know there are some flaws in it and that it’s risky, but I have faith.”
“How hot does that furnace get down there?”
“I want to say somewhere around 900-1,100 degrees Fahrenheit or more, just because this is an apartment building, so it has to provide heat for a lot of areas. I know crematories use furnaces that get up to 1200-1400 degrees Fahrenheit and take about 3 hours to get the job done. With this furnace, we’re looking at about 6-7 hours. What do you think?”
“This is a tough call, but you’ve given it some thought, so you obviously believe it can work. I’m with you.”
“It’ll work Flynn, I know it will. I’m gonna go shower and get ready. While I’m doing that can you pull her teeth out? They won’t break down in the heat as easily, so we better remove them just to save us the trouble of trying to find them all in the furnace later along with her bones.”
“I guess I can get my hands dirty before we meet with the ladies. It shouldn’t take me long to pull them all, it’s kind of my specialty.”
“Guess I found the right guy for the job then. Pliers are under the kitchen sink and a bunch of other tools too. I have a raincoat in my closet you can wear, in case you get messy. Try not to get blood on anything; put some trash bags down or something.”
The hot water greets me with harsh stings upon my skin as I step into the shower. It’s a little too hot for my liking, so I give the knob a quarter inch turn to the right to cool it down a bit. Leaning up against the wall, I think about the hell of a day I’ve had and how it’s only gonna get better when I see Agave tonight. It’s still hard to believe that she’s into me. I’m not that bad looking of a guy, but she’s the type of girl that should have a model by her side, not a scrub that works at the zoo.
After my shower, I give my beard a quick trim before getting dressed and giving Agave a call. She picks up on the third ring.
“Hey Agave, it’s the zookeeper guy.” My nerves are working overtime right now. Having to talk to her on the phone has me sweating bullets.
“The zookeeper guy? I like that. How are you?”
“I’m doing pretty good. Flynn and I were just wondering if you and your friend still wanted to get together tonight.”
“Of course, we do! We are on our way to Hailstorm. It’s a bar on the south side. Have you heard of it?”
“Yeah that’s not far from my place. We can be there in about fifteen to twenty minutes.”
“Sounds good. We’ll see you guys soon.”
She makes a kissing noise through the phone before she hangs up and my heart is doing backflips. Her voice alone gives me chills.
“Flynn,” I scream walking back toward the bedroom with the wine that Sicilia and I started, “are you almost done?”
He comes out with one big trash bag and puts it in the garbage can in the kitchen.
“You didn’t get any blood on anything, did you?”
“Nope. I put trash bags down everywhere and scoured the room after the last tooth was pulled. Her mouth is a bloody mess, but I stuffed a towel in it, wrapped her head in duct tape and added an extra sheet to the one you already wrapped her in. Not a drop of blood in sight.”
“Great job. You ready to get out of here?”
“As ready as I can be. Let’s do it.”
On our way to my car, we stopped at the garbage chute to drop the trash bag down it before continuing down the stairs. The building maintenance guy is working on some patches of peeled paint in the hallway, throwing us a head nod as we walk by.
It isn’t hard to find my car when we got to the garage because Flynn parked terribly. He managed to take up two parking spaces with the angle it’s at. I’m hurting from laughing so hard as he tries to ask me something.
“So, as I was watching you before we met, I noticed you never really hang out with anyone. Do you have any friends?”
“I have some. I guess I just like having time to myself. I prefer to do a lot of things on my own. I hang with people occasionally, but not often.”
“I can respect that. Back home, I have quite a few friends, so to come here on my own not knowing anyone besides you has been really refreshing.”
“Tired of being Mr. Popular?”
“Yeah, I just want to be a regular old Joe, you know? Kill people in peace and mind my own business.”
“Do you think you’ll ever stop? Like leave it all behind for a real life with a wife, kids, a good job and a white picket fence?”
“I’m sure I will someday; either that or I’ll be caught.”
I guess his response is exactly how feel. I wonder if I’ll ever grow out of this. Like one day I’ll just wake up and say, “I don’t want to hurt people anymore”. I believe people can change, if they really want to, but right now I don’t want to stop and I have no idea when I will.
Right after hoping on the freeway, we’re hit with traffic. The streets are always packed like this on the weekends. That’s why I prefer to take the train most of the time. A fifteen to twenty-minute drive easily turned into thirty, but we make it to Hailstorm. I park in a parking lot not far from the bar and light up a cigarette before going in.
Standing outside, we can hear the band playing and they don’t sound bad at all. I love live music. I can listen to just about anything and be okay with it, but I hate listening to the radio. It plays one good song every thirty minutes in between the commercials.
“You excited?” Flynn asks as he ashes his cigarette and starts walking toward the entrance.
“I haven’t gone out with someone in forever. I’m a little rusty man.”
“Just be yourself and you’ll be fine.”
After waiting in line and laughing at the door guy’s bad jokes, we make it inside and find Agave dancing at the bar. Her mane of hair is flowing carelessly, as she matches pace with the sound of the band. Flynn and I watch her hips move in a circular motion, while her hands twirl in the air and her head sways back and forth. Every part of her body is in tune with the other as she dances. It looks like she’s having the time of her life right now.
“Excuse me ma’am, we have a strict rule against having too much fun,” I say walking up behind her.
“Hey, you made it! This is my friend Rouletta.”
“Hey zookeeper guy; nice to officially meet you.”
“Is the zoo gonna me my rise to fame around here?”
“I think you’re pretty spot on with that one,” Rouletta laughs.
“Rouletta, this is my friend Flynn,” I say introducing the two of them. “He just moved here from Vegas not long ago.”
“Pleasure to meet you Flynn.”
“The pleasure is all mine,” he says kissing her extended hand.
I had no idea he was so smooth.
“Should we grab a drink?” Agave asks.
“I’d love to.”
We find a seat at the bar that isn’t too close to the band, so we can talk to one another. Our bartender is a very thin Latin man who has a beard that stops growing at the center of his chest. His hair is pulled up into a bun that bounces heavily with every step he takes approaching us.
“Hey, I’m James. What can I get going for you tonight?”
He speaks quickly as other patrons began to take seats at the bar, due to the band taking a break. I order a rum and coke and she gets a dry martini with a twist.
“So, Mr. Zookeeper, tell me about yourself,” she smiles.
I hate that statement or question or whatever it is. I hate talking about myself in general. When people find out my past they begin to feel sorry for me and I don’t want that. Especially with her, but the way I see it is that if things go well tonight, she’ll find out eventually.
I tell her about my life from the start. Everything from when I was born to when I finished college. She asks questions in between some of the things I say for clarification, but for the most part she just listens. I feel like I’m boring her, but she reassures me that she wants to hear it all. By the time I finish, we have both gulped down three drinks and her face is soft and somber.
“Wow. I can’t imagine what any of that must have been like for you. Despite your past, you’ve come out on top and are doing well for yourself without the help of anyone so be proud of that. Here’s to you.”
We toast to my shitty life and I crack a goofy smile.
“What’s so funny?”
“I don’t know. I guess I’ve never had someone give a toast in my honor. It’s a weird feeling. Like everyone is watching you even though it’s really just you and me.”
“Well there’s a first time for everything, right?”
There’s a look in her eye. It’s a look of nervousness and temptation. Her long legs shake to the rhythm of the of the speakers underneath the silky black dress she wears. I don’t know what has come over me, but I lean in and kiss her. To my surprise, she doesn’t stop me, but instead she puts her hand on my neck and kisses me back. We lock lips for a while before I pull away to look her in the eyes. She puts her hand on mine and in the dimly lit bar I can feel her blushing from the heat radiating from her body. We get another round of drinks and she tells me more about herself.
Her full name is Agave Blackendecker. She’s twenty-three and originally from Texas. A couple years ago, she moved here as a journalism major at DePaul University. Seven months into her program, she had a change of heart and decided to pursue music. Her parents weren’t okay with that, so they cut her off from helping her completely. She’s been a server for two years now and does oil paintings on the side for an independent gallery. She buys studio time to record songs here and there, but she’s really just waiting on her big break.
“Have you met any producers or anything like that?”
“Not yet. I sing at a couple different coffee shops around town regularly. I’ve won some talent shows and a few open mic competitions, but I’ve still got a long way to go. I’ll get there eventually.”
“It’s really admirable that you’re so dedicated to your passion. I bet you’re an amazing singer.”
“I’ll have to show you sometime,” she says giggling.
I look behind me and see Flynn on the dance floor with Rouletta. He’s tearing it up out there. I had no idea he could dance so well. Rouletta is trying her best to keep up, but the heels she’s wearing aren’t made for dancing.
“I think we should get out there,” I say turning back to Agave. “Those two are trying to show us up.”
I grab her hand and lead us to the dance floor. She puts her hands on my shoulder and we start to sway to the upbeat music that plays. Looking her in the eyes is like looking at the reflection of a sunset across the ocean. They’re such a crisp and mesmerizing hazel and brown mixture. Almost like a dark orange, but softer. I can look into them all night.
We dance a few songs with one another, joking a great deal with Flynn and Rouletta who hang close by. My hands hang on to her hips, as she twists and grinds her body up against me. I’m a little embarrassed to say that I can’t keep up with her, but I’m doing my best. She presses her back to me and slides her body down mine.
“You’re giving me quite the show,” I whisper in her ear.
“I can do so much more than that,” she says whirling back around to face me.