Mind or Body? Blood or Bone.
Is this numbness a shell, or a spike?
A weapon or armor?
It's grown from my chest without warning, but
I can't tell if it's made of bone or blood.
Which would be easier to prune?
Blood is soft, but impossible to sever
at least not completely.
One can stand outside and look at the red weed that's grown through the roof of your house but
can't do much about it
aside from spraying a little poison on it and hoping it will die soon.
(and I don't have any poison, anyway. You have to go out and buy that.)
Bone I've severed before.
It seems instantaneous but
it's more like a crack in the windshield on a cold day
slowing spreading across your vision until it blinds you
and then it falls
like a tree in a forest
or a pillar in an earthquake
and it takes a lot of you with it;
digs it out of the ground
and makes you bleed
grotesquely from the heart
and grow back from a shriveled shell.
The Universe is
Dust in a sunbeam.
Cinammon in milk.
Flecks on the sidewalk.
Flashes of red light
that flood through the gaps between the train cars
The freckles of a stranger
who seems almost familiar
like maybe we could know each other
if we tried.
Light on the water.
Chalk on black paper.
The iris of an eye.
I tell myself I hate you
The way you talk
the way you walk
the way you sing and smile and dance
I hate it all.
I hate the way you run through my head
in the little moments
throughout the day
it’s so intrusive!
What did I do
to deserve this?
to deserve to
sit next to you
and watch you dance
in that way that you do
I don’t have a clue.
I’d wish you’d disappear--
if I didn’t know I’d miss you.
What once was there, what still remains
The blood drips down my back
And off my fingers
Slow and inky black
Like Thanatos' tears I
can see them in the back of your eye,
You've had much worse and so have I.
Just reach out for my hand
And I can take you
to the promised land
Just do what I say, then
you will be my prodigal son.
Just tighten your grip
on the gun.
Can see that you're hurting,
You've gotta be tough
have to leave now 'cause,
they're callin' my bluff
just want you to know I
just want you to know that you'll
What did Mom tell me?
"Hold your breath and count to ten."
The walls are closing in.
Can't hold my breath.
Is he gone? I don't hear him.
I'm opening the door.
He's raising his gun.
“John Wayne Gacy,” You say flatly, dropping his photo onto the desk in front of me. I don’t look at it, because I don’t need to. I’ve studied his face a thousand times. “Lived in Waterloo, Iowa,” you continue. “Beloved by his community. Good with kids. Married.”
“To Marlynn Myers,” I say. “Managed a KFC. Threw parties for his employees in his basement. Had two children, a son and a daughter. The daughter was born just four--no--six months ago.”
You lace your fingers together, leaning forward in your chair. “So why’d you kill him?”
I gaze into your eyes. They might as well be stone.
“Why did you do it?” Your voice is low, threatening. I flex my hands against the handcuffs, absentmindedly pulling the chain tight against the spot where they’re attached to the table. “August 1st, 1967, neighbors heard a gunshot and saw you flee the scene. Why did you murder him?”
“I did you a favor,” I say.
“A favor?” Your eyes turn to lava, your gaze sears me. “As far as we can tell the man never did anything wrong in his life!”
“Trust me. He would have been arrested by the Iowa police for something horrible very soon if I hadn't done anything.”
“What did he do?”
I tap my foot on the concrete floor.
“What did he do to you?”
“He didn’t do anything to me. He was never going to do anything to me. I did it to protect other people; thirty three--no, thirty four other people. Possibly thirty six.”
You study my face carefully.
“Two of them were never confirmed,” I clarify.
You look in one of your folders. You flip through the pages for a while. I tap my foot on the concrete floor to the tune of the Mario theme song. You close your folder. “Gacy has no criminal record.”
“So who are the thirty-three people you’re referring to?”
“Timothy McCoy, Unidentified, John Butkovitch, Darrell Samson, Randall Reffett--”
“Wait,” you say, hastily scribbling their names down.
“You don’t need to do that,” I say. “You’ll find all the boys alive and well and some of them won’t even know Gacy.”
You put your pen down angrily. You pick it up again and scribble something else down. You take a small, clear bag out of your briefcase and place it on the table. Inside is a bullet. “Do you recognize this?”
“Well, obviously I don’t recognize this specific bullet. I’m assuming it’s the one I used to kill Gacy.”
“It doesn’t match any known gun.”
“Oh, ha, yeah. I usually try to buy a gun en locale, but I just didn’t have enough time this time around. It’s not an exact science, you know? A lot of guesstimating, uh, involved with it-- Can I ask you a question?”
“If you’re trying to get the insanity plea, it’s not going to work. I’ve been watching you. You’re perfectly capable of being lucid.”
I droop a little bit--I didn’t even know you’d been watching me. I must be losing my edge. I continue with my question anyway: “Do you...specialize, in this sort of stuff?”
“I’m a homicide detective.”
“No--yes--but like, do you--you must know a lot about serial killers then, right?”
Your eyes widen. “Serial killers?”
“Yes--no--I mean, I’m not a serial killer. Gacy was. Would be. I’m not. Gah!” I put my hands to my temples. The pain’s begun again. “Please not now. Anytime but now.”
“You’re not insane,” you assert again, a little less confidently.
“No, no you’re right, I’m fine. Listen to me, listen. Do you know who Jack the Ripper is?”
You shake your head.
“Or Ted Bundy?”
You shake your head again.
“What about Clementine Barnabet? Ed Gein? Harold Shipman, otherwise known as ‘Doctor Death?’ Any of those ring a bell?”
“Ed Gein is a famous cold case from about a decade ago. They never found his murderer.”
“Well, uh, that’s not the point I was trying to make. The point I was trying to make is that, where I’m from, all of those people are infamous serial killers. Some of them also have upwards of thirty victims. Like Clementine Barnabet. And Ed Gein was notoriously brutal. He would make furniture out of his victims. Furniture!”
“He didn’t do that.”
“No, you’re right, no, not here he didn’t.” The pain’s growing stronger. “Listen to me. You should be thanking me. I’ve done so much good for the world. So much. I didn’t even--” I swallow. “I didn’t even tell you all the things that I did. I did a lot of things. I saved a lot of people. But--” I close my eyes as the ringing in my ears begins. “Listen. I only have one jump left before I go completely nuts, I think. It takes--it takes a toll on my body, it takes a lot out of me, to do this. I’ve sacrificed a lot to do all this. I’ve only got one left. I can’t afford to guesstimate on this one, but I think--” I’ve reached a fever pitch, and so has the ringing in my ears. “Ever since the first time, ever since the first I’ve been having more and more trouble controlling it. These past times I’ve been getting sloppier, being off my target by days or weeks or months and--and I’m scared. That’s it. For the first time in an indeterminate amount of time I’m scared. That’s why I waited so long, to time travel again, that’s why instead of just warping away on the spot like I usually do I left, and I travelled around a bit. Came here to San Francisco. I’d always wanted to see California. Actually see it, not just be there, you know? I knew I might get arrested. But I’m scared. I’m so scared. Even though I knew it would happen eventually, I don’t want to lose myself. But it’s happening. It’s going to happen very soon.”
You don’t believe me. I can tell just by looking at your face. “Do you need a doctor?” you ask.
“No. No please, listen. I’m going to travel somewhere close. As close as I can. I’m going to try to control it as much as I can. And I want you to find me. I want you to find me and arrest me again, please. Please. I’m counting on you. I need you to find me! Okay? I need you to do this!”
Your voice sounds muffled, distant. “You’re insane.”
“I’M NOT INSANE!” I scream, but you’re already gone.
I’m standing by the ocean. The sound of the waves usually calms me, but today it doesn’t. The wind rustles the green grass that comes up close to the beach. There’s a quaint little town in the distance. I walk up the hill and find a sign welcoming me to Benicia, California. Something about that town name seems familiar, but I can’t put my finger on what.
A car comes trundling down the road. I wave at it. The driver pulls over and rolls his window down.
“Excuse me sir, what year is it?” I ask.
He looks at me over his glasses. “1968.”
I smile and thank him, then go back down to the beach.
I miss the work already. I’ve been doing it for so long. There’s nobody here to kill, and that makes me feel directionless. The only thing to do is wait for you to find me.
I don’t want it to take long. I’m already restless, and I’m already wishing I hadn’t said anything to you. I should make it easy for you to find me. I should leave you a few hints.
I go into town and buy a gun.
I still see you
in the faces of strangers
in the art of my own hands
in the smiles of the kids
on the concrete benches at our old school.
I still think about you
whenever I play cards
whenever I see a musical
whenever halloween comes round
because I wonder if it's still your favorite holiday.
I still hear you
in the voices of a crowd
in the music of the city
in every word I've never said
because I still regret leaving every day.
“Everybody must burn,” she told herself, as parts of her melted away.
* * *
Cutting the strings
Life would be easier if I were dead.
I came close to dying. I know how it feels.
It was nice in the daylight, and agonizing in the dark,
but I think the agony was the part of me
that was still a little bit alive
If I were completely dead,
The pain would run off of me like water.
I'm at a stranger's house for Christmas. I had nowhere else to go, so they took me out of the cold. I spot something moving in the corner of my eye. There, hanging on their tree, is a clear plastic ornament filled with writhing mealworms. All of the other ornaments are opaque, but if I look too closely, I can see them moving.