Here is chapter one of the new novel The Foot Doctor Letters: A Serial Killer Speaks Out. The plot probably seems self explanatory: a serial killer describes how he became one. It is available on Amazon in paperback and digital format. Enjoy and Caveat Emptor!
1 - Dear Dan
It’s been awhile. How are you? I suppose you might not want to hear from me, but I have a few things I want to explain. You’re my oldest friend. As far back as I can recall you’ve been in my life. I don’t even remember how we met, you were just always there-in the best days.
I have no real memories from my early life, just sensations. The sounds of screaming and cursing, and breaking glass, and dull thuds of flesh on flesh. The smells of blood and vomit and pungent alcohol. The feeling of a hard slap and the ache of a solid fist. All of that filled me up before I could walk.
My first solid memories were those days of kindergarten when you and I would run around, up and down the block, playing hide and seek, and freeze tag, and horse, and shoot the badger. There was that one time when I slipped while scampering up a tree and my ankle got caught on the crotch of a forked branch. Remember the sound of the snap, loud as a pistol crack? I hung there one foot straight up, like the Hanged Man from a tarot deck, until your mother came out and got me down. She stayed with me as I whimpered and pushed my head into her fat breast, until the ambulance came and I was whisked away to the land of the antiseptic.
Then there were the lazy summer afternoons when the sun beat down and the water boiled up and stepping outside felt like walking through soup? It must have been around kindergarten or first grade, when we played in your driveway and our green army men committed massacre after massacre. Over all of the normal neighborhood sounds, we could hear the jingle-jangle tones of the Mr. Softee truck as it shuddered onto our street. Everything stopped immediately and, tongues lolling about our faces, we galloped to beg for a creamy treat. Your mother always had an extra dollar for me to buy a cone.
Life drifted on; it seemed so long then, but so short now, and we were forced into those horrible days of elementary school, where three times five was a complex mathematical equation. There was that time when we were playing on the seesaw in the park and the Hand of God overtook me. I became flushed with fear and fell from the ride in a rhythmic, frothing fever. My temperature was one hundred and three degrees. No one in my house would get off their asses to pick me up, so your mother volunteered to take me in and be my nurse.
I spent those two weeks in a primordial state, with the Bearded Saints crowded around me, praying to Christ on the Cross for my immortal soul. Their halos glowed and their beards flicked down and tickled my nose. All the while, winged seraphs and barbed devils battled in the background. Your mother stayed with me the whole time. She wiped my nose, wiped my ass, and mopped up my puke. Without her I would have died. No one at my parents’ house seemed to notice my absence.
Then, after first grade, we went to summer camp. Well I almost didn’t because there was no money for little me to stay in the inn. No penance or appeals above or below would shift the wallets of my parents, until your mother offered to help. She scrimped and saved, and cut down on the Fritos and orange tinged soda pop, to raise the money. Do you remember? I hope you do because it was one of the best times in my life. It is special to me and I want it to be so for you too.
And oh, oh, oh remember all of the impromptu sleepovers which happened whenever my mother was having one of her little spells and needed some “special alone time” and my father was out doing whatever. They usually happened when my brother was in prison. One time in particular sticks out. It was when my brother was locked up for public indecency and corruption of a minor, I’d had some very special bad dreams and ended up peeing all over my sleeping bag. I went to your house crying at two o’clock in the morning, my Underoos soaked and stinking. Your mother woke up and saw me and changed my clothes. She held me close and said, “Everything will be all right, baby.” Then I asked her if she could be my mommy and she just smiled and hugged me again. How silly we were then.
For a while I lapsed and stopped believing in Angels and God and the Bearded Saints, because my every wish wasn’t granted. We talked about it, with our small understanding of how the world worked, and in the debate you made an excellent point. Just because we couldn’t see them, doesn’t mean the Angels aren’t there, like those insects who live in your eyebrows. It made so much sense that I slapped my forehead over and over again, until you made me stop. Don’t you see? You restored my faith in God and his plans.
There is a confession here I need to make. Something terrible I’ve done to you. I’m telling you this so you will believe what I say later is the truth and we can have a clean slate. Remember the cat you had, Poxer? The calico with orange stripes across its face and the weird pattern in the fur on the left side, like a black heart. Why was he called Poxer? I used to know, but I forget. I think it was some word you mispronounced as a child and everyone thought it was cute.
You thought he ran away, except he didn’t. I wanted to know. I was curious and thought, “Why not?” Or perhaps the idea wasn’t really as coherent as that. It was more of a sensation I gave into. Whatever the result, I knew the cat couldn’t tattle.
I took a Swiss army knife my uncle Dick had left in the couch. It was dull and rusty with a cracked brown waffle covering. Looking back, I’m surprised it even worked it was so old. I took the cat behind your garage and cut him right through that black heart. He cried and clawed, and I yelled at him until the blood ran out and he stopped. I looked and saw a few things, then buried him behind the garage and washed myself down with the garden hose.
It was quite a disgusting experience actually. I didn’t like it. Very messy and smelly, with all sorts of slimy things sliding about and getting the blood out took forever. I had a sense of myself very early on and this was not me.
Later on, when you were all looking around for it, I said, “Did you look behind the garage?” and giggled. Your mother gave me a sidelong glance, as if something about me bothered her. I never forgot the look.
Then a turbulent time came upon us. We all graduated to sixth grade and had to go to a new middle school building. And I hated it! No more naps or free time or fun. It was all just class, class, class, then lunch. You had lunch, I didn’t have lunch. They wouldn’t give me a free lunch because my mother wouldn’t send in the paperwork. She said she didn’t want people to think we were poor, so she got me a yellow plastic lunch box and told me to fill it with something in the mornings. The first day I piled Oreos into it and when my mother found out, she hit me with the belt because those were her Oreos. Your mother later noticed the welts on my back and asked why. After that, there was always some food for me in your lunch box, but I think you kept the desserts for yourself.
When we moved from sixth to seventh grade and were put on separate teams, which was even less fun. They stuck me in the “remedial team” or as all the other kids called it, “team retard”. I had no friends in this new group of people. They were all deformed, spacy weirdos. The teachers hated us. Maybe they thought they were wasting their time. The worst was having to deal with that one evil woman, the vile cunt, with all her ugly smells and warty face. You remember her? Mrs. Brockington, the math teacher, and her bad temper.
There was the one terribly bad day, when the clouds blackened in my head and every other second I felt as if I was going to vomit up the handful of stale Cheerios I had scarfed down for breakfast. Mrs. Brockington was unhappy with how messily I had written my multiplication problems. She grabbed my arm and yelled at me. Her disgusting hot breath hit me and sparked a storm in my brain. Like lightning, the idea struck to stab her with the Swiss army knife. Then apparently, I did. I don’t remember really doing it, but it happened, about six or twenty times. I’m not sure. I went at it until I was pulled off her, saturated in blood.
I was surprised to see they knew who I was down at the police station. I had never been there before, but then I realized I was known via the other members of my family who got out more than me. The cops called me by my first name and had me phone someone. I knew no one would show up from my house, so I called your mother. She came down very nervous-like and brought me some new clothes, as the police had taken away the ones I’d been wearing. She didn’t give me a hug, only stared with that same look again, as if scared by something around me. She just put her left hand kind of near me, so I could feel the heat, but would not make actual contact.
She went into an indoor room with windows and talked to the police for a long time. When they came out, she smiled briefly and then hesitatingly patted me on the arm. For a second, I thought everything would be all right and I could go home. Then they took me away. Now you won’t remember this because you weren’t there, but I wrote lots of letters to you about what happened, which were sent on. At least they told me they were.
After a brief stay in a prison cell where I received no visitors, we went to court. There were lots of talking and sitting around and standing. The people all doing this looked really creepy, like windup toys. A monkey banging his symbols. A plastic dog stiffly walking forward. The clerk briskly rattling off the charges. The stenographer with her teased-out hair lightly tapping in response to the slightest sound.
To keep me quiet, the lawyer gave me some crayons and a few sheets ripped from a coloring book, so I don’t remember much beyond the general stale atmosphere of the room. It was dull, lifeless. Everyone was going through the motions, not really interested in what they were saying or what was being said. The coloring was much more interesting and I spent a relatively happy afternoon carefully shading in between the lines of Donald Duck and his three nephews, and Charlie Brown and Snoopy.
The only specific words I remember are when the lawyer came over and practically stuck his finger in my eye. I don’t think he noticed because he wasn’t looking at me, but gesturing for semi-dramatic effect while mechanically clipping, “Your honor, this boy isn’t here because of what he has done. He’s here because his family is poor. Too poor to afford the help he needs. Can we punish him for that?”
I guess so.
Over the two days we were in court, I looked around and didn’t recognize anyone. I didn’t expect to see anyone from my family, but I didn’t see your mother either. I had assumed she would show up, but nothing.
No one was there for me at all. Then or later. No one but evil faced boys with pink lips who had been beaten and raped their whole lives. They waited inside, just counting the time until it was their turn to get some. No one but droopy-eyed, minimum wage guards who didn’t care what the hell happened as long as it was quiet. No one but exhausted and exasperated social workers with one thousand and one child inmates on their plate. No one but ragged-looking teachers, not good enough for even the ghetto public schools.
All these authority figures said the same thing. They raged and recited platitudes about ideas and morals and themes and pledges. All of them meant nothing. They said the words because it was the official party line. None of them seemed to believe it. Pure regurgitation.
“You are here to fit in with society. So, you can go out and get a good job and have a good life. Do as we say and everything will be all right,” they told us.
I learned very early liars were in charge and the world is rotten because everyone’s too lazy to change it.
The memories keep flooding back. What comes up next is when I was released after a year in the pen. There was no one to meet me except some wrinkly-faced, sour-mouthed battleaxe from Child Protective Services, who coldly dragged me off in a broken-down Honda. She put me into the car seat like I was a thing, a dirty ragdoll instead of a person, and would not look at me the entire trip.
I could feel her disgust towards me. She acted as if not looking at me would cause me to disappear. I wanted to cut her throat. I wanted to stab her eyes. I wanted to make her go away. The whole trip I burned and thought of nothing else.
The social worker took me to a house filled with broken children, both older and younger than myself. All molested and molesters. Each one on a different spoke of the same vicious cycle. The house “parents” were disinterested slobs who always wore dirty clothes. The place was bare, drab, and worn- the thinnest veneer of civilization draped over starvation bones. We had the basics-three hots and a cot. That’s all they had to give us and that’s all we got, and they were constantly annoyed at having to provide even the bare minimum. They took their low pay and let us do whatever we wanted the rest of the time.
I tried to call you, but I had forgotten the number. I walked around the streets a lot looking for your place, but all of the houses were strange and hostile. I wanted to hear your mother’s voice. For some reason, I thought just the sound of it would make the Angels beam down on me again. But that didn’t happen for there was a monster in the house.
His name was Jobiah and he was bigger than me. He had been forcibly removed from his crack whore mother, who had pimped him out since he was five. I remember the way he licked his stupid thick lips and the slow sideways glances he would give me out of his almond eyes and the ugly black birthmark, like a clover, by his left eye. The adults around never knew or cared what he did.
The first time was late at night when I had gone to the bathroom. He followed me out and kicked the door open as I tried to close it. He stuck a towel over my mouth and pushed my face hard against the wall. I tried to struggle, but he kept slamming my head until I was too dazed to fight back. He pulled down my footie pajamas and stuck his knobby penis up into my anus. I remember him grunting and groaning, until his filthy seed had been spent and he left his oily stink all over me. It was my first sexual experience, a homosexual rape.
That was not the only time. Whenever he got me alone and could threaten me with a knife, he fucked me. It got to the point where I stopped struggling and just let him get it over with. I learned to almost stop feeling anything. When he was in me, grunting and sweating, my mind would soar off and take tea with the Bearded Saints, who stroked me and told me it will all be good in the end, everything happened for a reason, and the lights would one day explode revealing the Lord’s smile. Then all of the karmic secrets of the universe would expose themselves for a split second and slip away.
I suppose I should have told an adult, a teacher, a cop, one of the lumps hanging around the group home, but I was afraid and ashamed. I also didn’t think anyone would care. It was easier to pretend nothing had ever happened and throw myself into a fairy tale world where things were nice.
Then one day I was told someone was coming to visit. A song sang high in my soul, because I was sure it would be your mother. I pictured her grabbing me in her arms, hugging me near to death, and holding a swinging purse overflowing with chocolate treats.
But no. Unfortunately, it was just my Mother, the alcoholic whore. Now she seemed different however. Clean and alert, not the dopey crag-faced woman I had seen all of my life. She carried a desperate hope in her eyes and swore to me things would be better. She had found Jesus, or the equivalent thereof, and would be taking me home soon. She hugged me and told me my life would be filled with joy, but I didn’t believe her. Still, I was happy to go for obvious reasons, not the least of which was I would be with you and your mother again.
I had to wait two entire weeks, which to a child is three lifetimes. Sensing I was going to slip out of his grasp, Jobiah increased his assaults, especially at night. I was near despair and half convinced it was all a cruel hoax against me.
Then it happened; the yawning house “father” took me to court and the judge officially remanded custody of myself back to my mother. I was talked about in court, but my name was never used once. My “care and well-being” was discussed as one would talk about raising a ferret, or weeds on the back of a chia pet. No one looked at me. Neither judge, nor jury, nor executioner acknowledged I was there. Except once, when my Mother turned around and saw me, and seemed almost surprised at my presence. She smiled quickly and turned away, back to the more important proceedings of listening to the lawyers drone on. When she smiled, her face crinkled with five thousand lines. For the first time I noticed the sagging flesh on her face and the red unhealthy splotches from decades of chemical abuse. I wanted to throw up right there, but I didn’t.
When it was over, my Mother took me by her puffy hand and led me out. She asked if there was anything else I wanted from back at the group home. No. It could all stay behind and burn. I needed nothing.
Speaking of droning lawyers, I’m going to have to stop here because mine is whining that I’m not paying attention while he’s going over his “strategy” with me. If you ever need a lawyer, do not get Laurence Sims. He’ll get one bad idea in his head and then won’t shut up about it. I’ll write again soon.