Saturday, November 17, 2007
Murder By Association by Gary Starta
MURDER BY ASSOCIATION
By Gary Starta
Peter did not know his attraction to Debbie had become fatal. That's probably because he did not realize a serial killer had factored into his love equation. The laughter and easy banter Peter and Debbie had enjoyed at a singles function, a few days earlier had fueled the rage of a serial killer named John.
John, the Serial Killer, figured there was only one way to solve this equation. Subtraction.
John was introduced to Debbie two days ago at the latest singles rage: speed dating. Why spend an entire night waiting for a bad date to end when only a few minutes were needed to determine if there would be chemistry or not? This philosophy had not worked to the advantage of John, who believed eight minutes was just not enough time to bare his soul to a partner. How could he ever condense the last thirty-three years of his life--not to mention six murders--in that amount of time? It didn't take Debbie the full eight minutes to realize John was not going to be her next soul mate--let alone her next dinner mate.
The last three minutes of the introduction were spent in uncomfortable silence. The moderator of the event then rang a bell indicating their time was up. This meant that the single men at the event would now trade their seats in order to meet the next woman.
Women participants remained seated at tables while male candidates visited their tables in clockwise rotation based upon the letters of the alphabet. John was now going to table M and Peter would now enjoy the company of the gorgeous brunette named Debbie at table L. John barely spoke to the red-headed woman seated at table M. He was too busy watching Debbie's face light up at table L. Debbie bared a smile, revealing her pearly white teeth and sparkling brown eyes for Peter. Unconsciously, Debbie's left hand began to stroke the curly ends of her lustrous black hair. John translated this as sexual interest for Peter.
John knew Debbie and Peter would be hooking up. It was highly likely they had marked their attendance ballots to request each other's phone number. John realized there was only an infinitesimal chance, that Debbie had requested his number. He decided not to request hers, in a futile effort to maintain his self-esteem. After all, why should he allow the speed-dating moderator the satisfaction of mocking him?
John would have to go to plan B if he was to save face.
After the introduction process had been completed, John decided he would get to know the man who had stepped between him and his latest love interest. After a few minutes of small talk, John was able to establish that Peter was a divorced software manager who lived in the Boston suburb of Needham, Massachusetts. The killer also learned that Peter did not work on Tuesdays. John had all the information he needed. He left the small Framingham bar aptly called Whirlpools, as a tidal wave of emotions once again threatened to drown the last vestige of sanity in him.
John's emotions eventually ebbed. His ranting gave in to a mental numbness. He utilized this state to immerse himself in work for the next five days. When Tuesday morning finally arrived, John picked up his cell to call out sick. A nauseous feeling in his stomach and dizziness in his head, reminded him of his next appointment with death.
Maneuvering his Lexus IS 300 through the usual heavy traffic on Route 1, John had time to reflect on his past murders. “They all had it coming.” He rationalized in reference to his six victims. All of his previous murders were a necessary means to an end. The four women and two men he had killed painfully confirmed his distaste for a crazy little thing called love. John hated the part of himself that kept seeking salvation in this despised emotion. But he was hardwired just like every other heterosexual male, to keep swimming upstream to land the big catch. John insanely reasoned that one day he would meet the love of his life. She would be an unattainable type of woman: A princess who would never criticize or hurt him. He fantasized that the two of them would one day look back at his present distressed life and laugh. The chances that John would find a woman who could chuckle about his murder sprees were quite slim however. This did not bode well for the good people of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Utilizing his GPS system, John had little trouble locating Peter's house. It was located among a row of peach colored townhouses bordering a cul-de-sac. John found it ironic that the housing development ended in a dead end. Deep down, he knew love was a dead end for him and anybody foolish enough to stand in his way of finding it. The men he had killed all had won favor with the women he lusted for. The women he had killed fell into two categories. The deceased females were either objects of his unrequited love, or they had unintentionally branded him as a loser with what he interpreted as a scornful look or disinterested gaze.
John did not realize his hypocrisy. He was quick to judge as well, handing out death sentences to those who had offended him. At the same time, he despised what speed dating symbolized about today's society: Instant gratification and disposable people. He also hated those who behaved in a detached manner from society. Every time a stranger passed him by without so much as a nod or salutation, anger welled in the pit of his gut. This anger dug into him like a nail. Yet, he could do little about the matter but seethe in silence. He simply did not have enough time to punish these people. There were just too many of them. An entire populace had been trained to de-value their fellow human beings. Most of them couldn't be bothered with acknowledging their fellow man or woman. John eventually aired his sentiments to the nameless, faceless beings he spoke to in computer chat rooms. But nobody seemed to identify with John―the Serial Killer. His chat room buddies told him he was simply a victim of low self-esteem and to “get over it.” John refused to get over it. He was determined to make his tormentors experience the same psychosis he was experiencing. In John's mind, he wasn't really out of touch of reality―everybody else was.
John coasted his vehicle quietly into Peter's neighborhood and popped out of it without a noise. He approached his victim from behind, not so much to surprise him, but to assume a state of detachment. John feigned aloofness, coldly calculating his kill as if he were a snake and Peter were a mouse. But in John's heart, rage surged in tidal wave proportion. Each step towards Peter made John's heart thud like a drum.
Washing his car in the driveway with headphones on, Peter made an easy target. John scooped up a towel lying on the grass, grabbed the software manager around the waist, and shoved the chamois cloth into his mouth. From out of the corner of his eye, Peter thought he saw a neighbor moving a curtain in her bedroom window. He prayed the neighbor would alert the police of his plight. He couldn't scream to warn her though. The towel muffled his cries. The manager could feel the hot sting of tears in his eyes. Guilt welled up in him. He had terminated many people over the years. He wondered if the man behind him was a victim of his downsizing. Peter recalled the catch phrases he had used on his former employees: “Don't take it personal; it's only business.” But right now, things were beginning to get very personal for Peter the software manager. The catchphrase haunted him as he began to travel life's last superhighway―to his final destination, six feet underneath shade trees with an upside down view of one pricey headstone. John ignored Peter's tears. He plunged a knife into his heart. John waited for Peter to die so he could carve a symbol onto his stomach. The etching would depict a crude drawing, a line drawn across a heart in a diagonal fashion. Both the line and the heart were enclosed within a circle among a canvas of flesh. Investigators would later remark that the symbol reminded them of the wordless signs, which prohibited such vices as smoking. Detectives would also find a tarot card at the scene portraying the Three of Swords.
But crime scene investigators would find little else. John had used the water hose to effectively eradicate any boot prints or tire tracks he may have left. He had successfully subtracted Peter from the equation.
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