But, the police do not pull me over. I drive the sixty miles to Leroy’s grimy neighborhood, slowing down when I pass his gravel driveway to see if the lights are on in his kitchen. They aren’t. Which means he is following his routine and is in bed. Tomorrow morning he will get up, smoke his joint, pop his waffles into the toaster, and pour himself a giant glass of orange juice. Then it will be a waiting game.
A mile from Leroy’s, and down a driveway covered in overgrowth, is a dilapidated house that is scheduled to be demolished. I found it weeks earlier, and called the city pretending to inquire about purchasing the property. It’s already sold and set to be demolished, a woman told me. Then, after a brief pause, she added, They’re building a new house, one with three stories and a pool! I wondered what anyone in Washington would want with a pool? I thanked her and hung up. I had the house to myself for the next few weeks at least. I pull the Jeep into the garage; the floor is scattered with smashed beer bottles, strewn about like the last tenants had an epic party before they said goodbye. The garage door has to be lifted manually. I pull it down, over the Jeep, over me, and make my way into the house where I wait.
I think about Leroy as I wait, wondering what sort of childhood he had. If he justifies what he does to women, or accepts himself as a monster, like I have about myself. When I think about the big, hulking man as a small, innocent baby like Mo, I feel ill. We are all innocent once—every killer, every rapist, every terrorist. None of us asking for this life, but life as it is, being thrust at us by our parents, who hadn’t the slightest clue what they were getting into. And while some parents thrived under the flush of the demands that came from parenting, others grew emotionally slight, withdrawing, silently blaming the small humans who were ruining their lives. Humans who never asked to be brought into their morass in the first place. But still … not every person who was handed the shitty parent card turned into a murderer or a rapist. People prosper, children are resilient. What is it that turns a soul sour? What is it that turned me sour?
I place the gun on the filthy floor beside me. I am sitting in what was once a dining room; all appearance of what must have once been a beautiful room, is gone. Indigo wallpaper, ripped and rotting, the previously rich, walnut floorboards scratched and sagging from water damage. There isn’t a window intact in the entire house, each one boasting a large and jagged hole, the rock that made it lying in a cobwebbed corner. When I found the house, it had one of those heavy bolts on the front door, to keep out the vandalizing teens and the bums. Whoever had installed the lock had forgotten to secure the garage. A silly mistake. I had pulled up the door and walked right into the kitchen from the entrance inside.
I pick up the gun and hold it to my temple. Then I move it to my mouth. If I kill myself, there will be less people dead. But, will that be a good thing? Is what I am doing good or bad? Can you label something like killing a person in the way they killed? What would the American public think of me? If I were caught, I’d be put on death row. My trial would be quick, because I would, of course, plead guilty. There would be no appeals, no drawn out life in prison. When I slammed Vola Fields’s unsuspecting head into the side of the dresser, I had not planned on killing again. It was an automatic response based on what she was doing to Little Mo. And even when I stalked, and eventually burned, Lyndee Anthony alive, I had not taken joy. Yet, here I am: plotting, planning, and looking forward to watching the life drain from Leroy’s body.
Margo the Murderess. It has a nice ring to it.
I don’t want to hurt people, I don’t have an innate need to, but they must be punished. That’s what I do, or what I tell myself I do. I punish. I feel responsible for it. An eye for an eye. A beating for a beating. A burn for a burn. I have a conscience. It is different from the conscience of the average person, but at least it’s there. It is there, isn’t it? Yes, I feel remorse, I feel love, and guilt, and hurt. That counts for something in the study of the broken human brain. And I study my differences, hold them against the rest of the world, and then, very quietly, with my insides quivering like raw egg, against the psychopaths, sociopaths, murderers. I read every piece of information I can get my hands on. I want to know why I feel it’s all right to do what I do, and how it became me so easily. But there is no one to speak to, no one who would understand. So I read. I contextualize.
At seven forty-five, I lift myself from the floor, dusting off my pants and allowing the blood to flow back into my stiff limbs. Three cans of Red Bull stand straight up, like sentries, on the windowsill. I take them with me as I make my way back to the garage to prepare.
The window slides open without squeak or protest. My moves are rehearsed. I climb in the way I climbed in last time, taking precaution not to disturb anything. The kitchen light is on, a bag of waffles on the counter, thawed through. Leroy’s glass is on the table, drained of the juice, the pitcher empty beside it. I can smell his weed as I walk through the kitchen and enter the living room. The ghost of a smell, clinging to his clothes, I imagine.
I find him upstairs, lying on his back on the floor. I step over his body, pulling the plastic cuffs from my back pocket. His chest is rising and falling in time to his labored breaths. Leroy Ashley is sleeping deeply. I have to heave his body to the side, something I never would have been capable of in my old body. I smile to myself as I lift his wrists, placing one then the other behind his back. Now, my muscles strain and burn as I flip him over. I am barely winded, barely afraid. I hum the tune of “Werewolf Heart” as I work.
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