(Inspired by a bathroom conversation with my daughter.)
Gary Ridgway (The Green River Killer), Richard Ramirez (Night Stalker), Ted Bundy (Lady Killer), Kenneth Bianchi and Angelo Buono (The Hillside Stranglers), Edmund Kemper (The Co-Ed Killer), Jeffrey Dahmer (The Milwaukee Cannibal), Jerry Brudos (The Shoe-Fetish Slayer, Colin Ireland (The Gay Slayer), Peter Sutcliffe (The Yorkshire Ripper), Lawrence Bittaker and Roy Norris (The Tool Box Killers), John Wayne Gacy (Killer Clown), David Carpenter (The Trailside Killer), Belle Gunness (Lonely Hearts Killer), John Wayne Glover (The Granny Killer), Robert Black (Smelly Bob)—and the list goes on.
Virtually every infamous serial killer throughout history has been given a sort of nickname, a moniker, a sobriquet to illuminate the masses on what his or her, shall we say, “area of specialty” may be: from preferred type of victim to geographic location to choice of weapon to paraphilia to costume, or other such identifying proclivity. Some are even so heinous that their epithets may even hit the quasi-journalistic superfecta of “who”, “when”, “where”, and “how” such as, for example, John Doe, the 1:28 a.m. Cleveland Middle-Aged Woman Blowtorch Killer.
One commonality throughout most of these accounts is the largely elusive “why?”
And this, dear reader, brings us to the current narrative. Why? No, really … why?
I. Don’t. Know.
In a similar vein to Dennis Rader—the BTK Killer, in which BTK stood for Bind, Torture, Kill—the subject of this yarn has an illuminating acronym. Yet, unlike Rader—who knew exactly what he wanted to do to his victims—the “protagonist” of this story is not as decisive.
Suffice it to say that he has quite the dilemma.
To shoot his victims? No, that’s been overdone, especially in the media as of late. Guns are too prolific and invariably lead to gun control discussions ad nauseum.
Stabbing is an option, but, again, rather unoriginal and, frankly, quite boring. And messy. Very messy. Especially with frenzied repeated stabbing actions which cause a cascade o’blood to splatter on virtually everything in the near vicinity—especially the assailant’s clothing. And since he is a male, I will presume that laundry is not a task high atop the to-do list.
How about poison? Judith Neelley injected one of her victims with drain cleaner before shooting the poor girl in the head. Why the gunshot? Because the drain cleaner failed to achieve the desired outcome. Let’s cross off poison, shall we?
Drowning? Hanging? Drawing and quartering? The rack? The possibilities are, truly, endless. No wonder there is so much confusion. I have to admit that I’d be perplexed if I was in our young protagonist’s shoes.
Eugene was a regular chap. A smallish child who lived in a smallish Midwest town, Eugene was often bullied at school for his name, lisp, nerd glasses, pocket protector, mismatched socks and horrendous “my mother had a bowl” haircut. Compounding the problem was his slight dyslexia that made him truly despise school. Especially his middle school math teacher, the oft-married and divorced Mrs. Frankenheimer-Steinberg-Lewis-Fox-Manfried who took great joy in pointing out Eugene’s every mistake in front of the rest of the class.
Each day after school, Eugene walked home alone, or, rather, ran home alone as he was chased unrelentingly by his tormentors who loved nothing more than giving him wedgies, pushing him down into mud puddles, playing keep-away with his backpack, extorting his lunch money, and an assortment of other traditional bullying activities.
By the time he reached high school, Eugene’s triad of serial killer traits had already manifested in full force. He had always had a bedwetting problem that he was ashamed to admit continued into high school. He had tortured a variety of small animals he found in the woods behind his house. It was a good thing his mother was allergic to dogs and cats or this could have been a much sadder tale. Eugene was also becoming quite an adept pyromaniac.
As for his parents, Eugene’s father was a workaholic; always at the auto parts store he managed, likely to get away from Eugene’s mother who—in addition to possessing truly terrible cosmetology skills—refused to let her only child develop into a sane and competent adult.
But isn’t this the story of most serial killers? The vast majority are victims of broken homes, childhood abuse, bullying, and the resulting loneliness and warped thoughts and fantasies that ensue.
One day—I think it was a Tuesday—Eugene had enough. Enough of school, enough of his mother, enough of his father, enough bullying, just enough.
He vowed to exact revenge on everyone he blamed for screwing him up.
The first thing he did was walk to town and get a real haircut from Fred at the corner barber shop next door to the furniture store on Oak Lane. Then he bought an ice cream cone from Franklin’s Old Tyme Ice Cream Shoppe across the street. A double scoop in a waffle cone: rocky road and strawberry. He sat atop one of the park benches lining Oak, watching the passers-by and contemplating their deaths.
For Old Lady Thompson—who gritted her ill-fitting dentures every time she saw Eugene—he imagined smashing in her skull with a hammer to render her unconscious, before dropping a cinder block atop her lifeless face. And those dentures.
Mr. Rafferty—who owned the hardware store—should be set aflame for his ridiculously high prices, Eugene thought. A nice dousing with gasoline and a Zippo lighter and voila, the human torch. He imagined Mr. Rafferty running down the street screaming, instead of remembering his elementary school stop-drop-and-roll lesson.
Mrs. McAllister walked by, pushing her eight-month-old son, Wilbur, in his stroller. She smiled and said, “Hi,” to Eugene. He decided she would live.
Eugene then spotted Melvin Olsen walking toward him from Fourth Avenue. Melvin was one of the worst bullies at the high school, likely brought on due to his name. He reveled in tormenting anyone he was able to; however, Eugene was his favorite. Eugene quickly rose from the bench and hid behind a large oak tree nearby, hoping Melvin wouldn’t see him.
When the coast was clear, Eugene walked over to Rafferty’s Hardware and purchased some rope, duct tape, a hammer, a blowtorch, leather gloves, a tarp, gasoline, an icepick, a hockey mask, and a Zippo lighter. “Science project,” he said when Mr. Rafferty gave him an odd look and charged him $83.56 for his supplies. It was a good thing that Eugene had that paper route.
Eugene walked home to set his plan in motion. When he passed by the gas station on his way, Clete Buchwald gave Eugene a nasty look. It never occurred to Eugene that it was simply Clete’s face, so Eugene took it personally. Eugene envisaged cutting off each of Clete’s fingers and toes—and other parts—until he exsanguinated.
Eugene just kept walking, keeping his boiling rage inside. For now.
Luckily neither of his parents were home when he arrived, so he was able to hide his purchases in the empty fifty-five gallon drum behind their house. Dammit, I forgot muriatic acid, he thought, but it was too late to go back—and he was running low on funds.
Eugene stashed his supplies, made himself comfortable on the sofa, and turned on the television, delighted that his favorite show—Dexter—was on Showtime. Michael C. Hall was his idol.
Whilst watching, Dexter’s murderous antics (and taking notes) Eugene compiled his victims-to-be list:
- Melvin Olsen
- Old Lady Thompson
- Mrs. Frankenheimer-Steinberg-Lewis-Fox-Manfried 5. Dad
- Clete Buchwald
- Horace Rafferty
He thought seven was a good start. It’s a lucky number.
Eugene planned to break into each of their homes in the dead of night, while wearing his new hockey mask, and binding them with duct tape and/or rope, while he tried to figure out how to off them.
He started another list. This one he titled: Modes of Death:
- Suffocating with a plastic bag
- Setting on fire
- Force-feeding them his mother’s disgusting meatloaf.
He, again, thought seven was a lucky number.
That night, when his folks were asleep, Eugene snuck out of the house with his rope and duct tape—and wearing the hockey mask while humming the great John Carpenter’s musical theme from Halloween, obviously forgetting Harry Manfredini’s brilliant, Jaws-inspired score from Friday the 13th—and crept over to Old Lady Thompson’s house. She lived alone and he figured she would be the easiest to overpower, and also so he could get his feet wet before taking on the rest.
Eugene forgot that Old Lady Thompson had a Rottweiler. Brutus promptly announced Eugene’s arrival and Old Lady Thompson called the police.
“But I didn’t get to kill anyone!” Eugene cried as the police led him away in handcuffs. “Please, just let me kill one of them. Just one! Just one! Please, just one!”
Eugene now spends his days in the state psychiatric hospital crafting paper dolls only to tear off their heads. He seems quite content.
“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” ~ Winston Churchill