THE SEVENTH CROSS

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JASON REMINISCES - THEIR 4TH ANNIVERSARY

How time flies! Their fourth year anniversary was fast approaching. Unbelievable! Oh, Janice had her doubts a time or two, but her friends were in absolute awe of Jason. Mr. Perfect! But she knew him better than they, and though he was all those things they fawned over, it was just too perfect. Yet, other than that one really weird episode, he was a great husband. “That’s the problem with being a writer.” she mused under her breath, “we’re always looking for the story behind the facade.” So once again, she shook it off and made plans for the big night.

Of course, Jason was the benefactor of all Janice’s busyness. He knew she had been “observing” him more than usual these past few months, but lately that had dropped off significantly. Of course, he had worked the “perfect husband” routine to the max. He may not have known much about women on a personal level, but he was learning quickly. Of course, being a psychologist with a rather busy practice certainly didn’t hurt. Oh how people loved to tell him their stories! Women especially!

Perhaps if he just quit right now. After all, he hadn’t “acted out” since after their honeymoon, nearly four years, although he had “observed” women on many occasions in the intervening years. Still, he hadn’t “acted out” so maybe he was finally done with that dark chapter. Maybe they could have a good life, after all. He said the words, but even as he said them, he knew that that would not be his reality. He’d suppressed the urges time and time and again, but in his heart of hearts he knew the inevitable was approaching, and there wasn’t a damn thing he could do about it! Besides, he still had one cross left.

Jason was no fool. He held a Doctorate in Psychology and ensured he was always up on the latest advancements in his field. He counted among his friends medical doctors, psychiatrists, and the like. These were the kinds of subjects they spent hours debating amongst themselves. But still he found himself observing them closely. Perhaps they too, had secret lives. Secrets that they dare not share lest they be exposed. He wondered if they too, observed him as he observed them. One would be a fool to think otherwise. And with that constantly in mind, Jason was always extremely careful of what he said. If anyone could detect something even slightly out of place, it would be this group.

How he wished he could ask them! Of course that was impossible, for to do so would immediately raise suspicion and that’s the last thing he wanted. Better to talk about them; after all, they, (him included), were a bunch of narcissists anyway, and what better subject than themselves.

But he had a greater concern. He wished he didn’t, but he did. God. And that bothered him to no end. Despite him being a psychopath, if that’s indeed what he was, he knew God was real. That didn’t fit the psychology very well but he knew that one day he would be held accountable for his actions. He’d resigned himself to the fact that there would be consequences if/when he were caught. Probably jail, possibly execution. Those he could live with, and he laughed at the absurdity of what he had just uttered.

But eternal damnation, complete separation from God, that was quite another matter. And yet here he was contemplating another kill and at the same time, trying to figure out how God would ultimately judge him. “Yep, I’m definitely a psycho!”

Every time he looked at a cross, regardless of where it was, he felt “saved.” And yet the crosses he possessed were instruments of death. Death at his hands. The cross should have been a symbol of God’s enduring sacrifice. A symbol of God’s endless love. He tried to remember how this had all begun. His Mom had treated her cross with great reverence; in fact he had never seen her remove it. He loved fiddling with it whenever she held him in her lap and read the Bible to him or sung Bible songs. He especially liked “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so . . . He could never get very far with this tune, even today, before the tears would begin to flow. “Mommy, I miss you so much.”

He remembered when he was first given the cross that his Mom had worn. It alone had survived the fire that had torn through their home that fateful night so long ago. They had retrieved it from the ashes and it was eventually given to him as a reminder of his Mom. In fact, it soon overtook him. Even thought it was obviously a cross worn by a woman, he adopted it and wore it under his clothing. In some perverse way, his Mom would always be with him. Like her family would always be with her because of the crosses she had brought with her from Guatemala. That’s when he knew what to do with the crosses.

At the time it seemed a rather dumb thing to do, but as time went by, the crosses seemed to speak to him. The first time he’d placed a cross on his victim it seemed the right thing to do. She was so pretty, just like his mommy. Just like his mommy was before she became a bad mommy. He could feel himself becoming angrier and angrier as his thoughts took him to that very dark place. “She deserved it!”

After that, it just made sense. And after the next kill, it became a must. “What if I run out of crosses? I’ll have to find some more crosses! But they have to be the same as Mommy’s!” And he did try but to no avail. But this was crazy talk. He wasn’t going to kill anymore. He was done. “I need to throw the other ones away. And try he did, but he couldn’t do it! They owned him and he knew it. “Ok, but when they’re gone, that’s it!” to himself. And so the safety deposit box housed the remaining crosses until they would once again be called upon to relinquish their treasure.

But Jason had will power, no question. He wrestled his demons, and although tempted on many occasions, he resisted for four long years. And that’s about the time when he met Janice and she led him into a life he never believed he could have. Suddenly he wanted no more to do with the darkness of his yesterdays. But he still kept the two remaining crosses. He didn’t know why, but what harm? They were locked away in a safety deposit box. Out of sight, out of mind. Made sense. Except to a psychopath!

And that’s where they stayed. Until after their honeymoon, that is. But once again, he found himself in front of the safety deposit box for the first time in four years. Resignedly, he opened the box. There was nothing else in the box except the two remaining crosses and a few documents. When he relocked the box but one remained. He had tried so hard. But it wasn’t enough.

Had they not been in his possession he may have been able to resist the temptation longer, but that was doubtful. The tiny cross he had worn since a small child teased him constantly. On numerous occasions he had nearly ripped it from his neck to save himself from being strangled. He knew that was impossible but the self imposed marks on his neck suggested otherwise. And seeing “her” on the beach some two weeks prior had triggered something far bigger than himself. Now he had the extra cross tucked neatly away in his jacket pocket and he knew he would be giving it away very soon! That turned out to be January 11th, 2011. Then there was one cross left.

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