Crow, feeling his brain slip,
Finds his every feather the fossil of a murder.
Who murdered all these?
These living dead, that root in his nerves and his blood
Till he is visibly black?
How can he fly from his feathers?
And why have they homed on him?
Is he the archive of their accusations?
Or their ghostly purpose, their pining vengeance?
Or their unforgiven prisoner?
He cannot be forgiven.
His prison is the earth. Clothed in his conviction,
Trying to remember his crimes
Heavily he flies.
Ted Hughes- Crow's Nerve fails
1. The reluctant serial killer
I kill old people.
There's a retirement home a little way outside of the village I live in and once a week I go there and hand out flyers. 'SICK OF LIVING? We can help.'
They're good fliers, on the front is a picture of a beach in black and white- peaceful enough to make fact that I basically want to load them full of drugs and stab them repeatedly in the chest with my boyfriend's carving knife seem almost romantic or like going to a relaxing holiday camp, but bleak enough to remind them of all of reasons they want me to do them in to begin with. It took a lot of effort to make those fliers.
Once, I put an advert in the paper- it seems like, for the right amount of money, they'll let you print anything- but not that many people knew what the ad was really for. They probably assumed it was a teaser for some TV show on late night cable or a new nightclub opening or something.
Advertising, I think, is like violence; too much exposure and you become desensitised. My dad once told me that the first commercial shown on TV in Britain was for Gibbs S R Toothpaste and was transmitted at 8.12 pm on September 22nd 1955, the next morning Gibbs S R Toothpaste made front page news. You'd have been hard pressed to find a person in Britain after September 22nd 1955 who didn't have that brand proudly displayed in their bathroom. That's the kind of thing that advertisers today would sell their children for; nowadays, people hardly ever notice those adverts plastered inside subway systems and on billboards, so they find new and interesting ways to invade our minds.
Maybe I should have gone into advertising.
And it's not like I have a problem with old people; my nana was an awesome lady who smelt like cookies and lavender perfume and used to keep a box of matches in her bra so she always had a light for the smooth chestnut pipe she carried in her hands. I kill sick people too (I'm talking terminally, not people with chickenpox), and sometimes, every so often, I sit on the edges of train tracks and find the poor suicidals just waiting for a chance to jump and become human jam. See, I don't discriminate. I'm an equal opportunities kind of murderer.
They don't call the Samaritans to talk themselves down from buildings anymore, or for the doctor to lace them up with pain killers. They call me. I am the Angel of Mercy and I get on the bus with my empty sandwich bags, my drugs and my knife stuffed into an old canvas bag- because everyone knows plastic bags are murder for the environment.
In case you've jumped to the wrong conclusion and I wouldn't blame you if you did, I don't kill people for fun. Quite the opposite actually, it used to make me feel sick to my stomach, blood spilling from wounds and the gut-clawing feeling as a knife plunges through skin and flesh and vein and bone. Every time I plunged my knife inside, carving red hot tunnels of tissue, it was like I was right there with them, imagining what it felt like. Now, it's just an unpleasant part of life. Like my period, actually. There's a lot of blood involved either way, and an amount of discomfort. Like I said- it's all about desensitisation.
I'm still what you'd call a reluctant serial killer, though.
And you do what you have to do. Killing old people is, unfortunately, what I have to do. I don't enjoy lying to people, pasting on smiles and acting like I'm not breaking beneath a thin veneer made of spider webs. Sometimes I want to scream till my lungs and my larynx bleed, to confess to anyone and everyone that, as of Christmas Eve, I've killed seven people. But I have this little dream, call me crazy, a dream where I don't end up in jail for the rest of my life. So I go to work, try to serve people greasy food without my hands shaking, I take pictures of old buildings and people buying groceries as they scratch their arses when they think no-ones looking, I come home, draw moustaches onto pretty girls in magazines, watch the telly, wish my boyfriend was still physically attracted to me and I take out the bodies.
You're probably wondering why any self-respecting, sane- which is such a subjective word, anyway- nineteen year old starts killing people and I don't blame you; it's not the kind of thing that a kid talks about when they're asked what they want to be when they grow up, and if they did they'd be shipped off to a counsellor faster than you could say 'mentally disturbed individual'.
When I was a child, I wanted to be Barbie, that way I could have a different career every week. You know, the strict gender conforming jobs that Barbie did like 'Air Hostess Barbie' and 'Breast Enhancement Barbie' along with the futile attempts to make her creators appear less sexist 'Doctor Barbie', 'Lesbian Barbie'. They never had a 'Do It Yourself Euthanasia Barbie'. And you can kind of see why.
Safe to say, geriatricide was not what I'd seen myself doing; the whole thing started, as many chapters in my life have an odd habit of doing, with a corpse.