Could it be covered up?
This is the question I asked myself as I stood over her lifeless body, my chest a heaving mess, her face the very same. I have done many things in the fifty six years I have been alive. Things I am proud and ashamed of, and things I'm sure I can no longer recall. I have loved and lost, I have cried and laughed. There has been heartache and pain coupled with the death of a son and a disdain for the world we're born to occupy. There has been happiness too, and joy, along with the security which comes from the middle holding strong. I have had an average life is what I'm getting to, no greater or worse than any other once you divide it down.
For twenty five years I have held the same job and for five years longer than that I've been married to the same woman who up until yesterday continued to share my bed. Her name was Martha, my wife - she who was my rock. It was her that turned me; Martha who succeeded for more than twenty years at keeping the beast within me at bay. I was a serial killer, you see, or am, depending on how you choose to look at it. In all the years we shared a life she never knew of my extra-curricular activities. I want that to be known. And I want it on the record, the one I'm sure too soon will come. How could she not know? No doubt some will say this once it all is said and done, and precisely because of that is why I am writing this - what any would call their last confession.
I have always been a narcissist, but a selective one at that. I feel I am above the self-admiration associated with such people. I am self-centered though, and of that you may be sure. I will not shy away from this part of my disorder, nor have I ever. It is who I am, nature un-denied.
Like any good sociopath I have many ticks and behaviours. Throughout the years I have learned to suppress many of these while mimicking others; what society has deemed the norm. This was not easy, not at first, but in time I managed to stick and hold the landing. My lack of empathy was hardest for me to fake, that and remorse, which up until sometime yesterday I'm pretty sure I'd yet to feel. Martha was the one who saved me, - which I think I've already alluded to - Martha who helped me find the middle I've as well already mentioned; her face, her beauty; her kind, kind soul. She was one in a million, my Martha, a woman so selfless I am still having a hard time believing she is gone.
In 1981 she was to be my sixth victim. Instead she became my wife - a woman who bore me a child and then helped me bury that same child eighteen years later. I have never recovered from Donavan's death. I admit this freely and without shame while acknowledging that his death was most likely the tipping point which brought the killer inside me back out to play. It was the hollowness I felt inside, you see, this slick feeling which seemed to coat the lining of my stomach. It angered me, threatened my way of life. Did I say anger? I meant furious. Livid. Beyond unfair that he had been ripped from us - that we had taken the time to raise and nurture him, teach and believe in him, and then when his life was at the ripening point… his wings… spread… that cancer would intercede and cut him down to a shell of what he'd been. I'd have killed him myself if I thought I could have gotten away with it. Looking back, I believe right then is when the monster inside me awoke. And no, the irony is not lost on me - I'd now had someone ripped from me just as I had ripped from the lives of countless others. I do not deny this, nor do I embrace it. It is only the narcissist in me, a trait I think I've explained.
"Can I help you?" Those four words were the first she had ever spoken to me. She had strawberry blonde hair back then, cut in a bob, and a series of freckles which rested across the bridge of her nose. With light green eyes and lips I wanted to slit, she was bending down to pick up the oranges I dropped on my way out the door.
I had been in the Grocer not for groceries that day but because of her; weeks earlier, as I was making my way home, she had found my eye. I followed her, discovered first where she worked and then that her name was Martha. She would be my next victim, I thought, one who like the others would scream as I ripped the flesh from her face and then her face from her skull. This changed however - changed instantly - in the moment she placed her hand over mine and looked into my eyes while passing me the oranges I'd fumbled near the door. There was something between us then, a spark, different from anything I had felt before. Her touch, as she placed her hand over mine, was soft, gentle, honest, arousing in me something beyond the sexual, outside the primal. I was fascinated, spinning. The woman whom I had wanted to maim and rape and kill had somehow affected me on a level I was unaware I possessed. Had she broken through with just a touch? Was this all it took, really? I didn't know; not then, nor now. But both are things I have thought long and hard about as the years wore on, challenging myself to find an answer which would somewhat satisfy. I am sorry to say I still have found nothing save Martha herself; her being and her grace.
She tamed me, really, if you want to get to the balls of the equation; neutered a stone cold killer with a bat of her eye, the touch of her skin. The sociopath smitten, my desire to sever her neck from her shoulders became a thing of the past, dissolving, replaced by a need to know everything about her - but by choice, hers, not force, mine. This was the key - that she could stir in me something other than the tendencies which had ruled me since before the summer of '74.
It was all I could do not to fumble for words. Oranges up, I asked her out. With a smile she agreed and the rest, they say, is history. A good history, if I do say so myself. We had our ups and downs, yes, as all married couples do, but for the most part it was a happy time; a time where I actually felt and was no longer pretending as I once had - my mask in place for the world to see. It was genuine what I was feeling, you see, which I'm sure is the reason why my need to kill went dark. It had been replaced by the love of a woman who stood outside the sum of her parts - a wife who was true to her man, her life and her marriage, and was of the type who put her needs behind all others, her husband's especially.
And I know you are thinking sexual and for the most part you'd be right, though this was not always the case, as the emotional aspect of our lives had its quirks and spurts as well. Where Martha was open and engaging all the time, I seldom was. She worked at me however, worked hard, and because of this I have over the years become quite the conversationalist - people no longer staring as they once did whenever I laughed at a joke being told during a party. She refined me is what I am saying, teaching me everything I should have been taught by parents who should have taken the time to love me.
But the sex! My God! The sex is what destroyed me. As free and giving as Martha was outside the bedroom, it was when we found ourselves within that she truly knew no bounds; her selflessness amplified. "Come," she would say, whispering into my ear. "I want you in my mouth." When she would say things like this… they filled me… that she wanted me… that I would never again have to take. This was part of it as well; how I think she put to sleep the more dangerous parts of what I was before we met; that her appetite for intercourse was so large and so unabashed that it enveloped me, quashing any thoughts or needs I might find in the arms of murder. Martha did this unintentionally though, and I want that to remain clear - she had no idea as to what she was bottling as she soothed and sucked and fucked; she was only pleasing the man she knew of then, not the man I'd been before.
Insatiable, I tried to please her but could never keep up. It wasn't so much that I couldn't, but Martha, as I said - she only wished to please. I mean, there would be days when my penis fought to leave her mouth. Days! That is how selfless she was, how much she lived to please. I miss her. Really, I do.
Those days are over though; long gone and dead, like the boy. Had the cancer not taken him, he would've been twenty eight this fall; a man in his own right. He was smart too, smarter than us both. He had his mother's eyes and the line of my jaw. He never should have died, my son. Actually, he never should have been born, but God's humour, it ain't so much in the department of ha-ha if you know what I mean; that Donavan, by dying, became the catalyst which set the killer in me free; his death awaking in me once more the need to render and violate - to balance the violation someone had seen fit to throw our way. As I hurt, so would others. It was only fair. I thought this then. I do not think this now. I have changed. Martha's death has seen to that.