I prayed a prayer taught to me in my youth as I stood in the field with my weapon in hand. My eyes saw the young man holding the shovel. I was confident he was quick and strong enough to knock my old frail body down if he turned and saw me. He never got that chance. I placed the gun against the back of his head. Before he could react, I had pulled the trigger. I took the shovel from his hands and dug a hole. I stopped digging when it looked about deep and about wide enough. I removed a pocket knife from my sock. I cut his clothes off and placed them under the house. I’d use them to stuff a scarecrow or maybe just burn them. Then I rolled his naked body into the hole I had made and covered it with soil and worms.
I found a newspaper that Sara had put in the garbage, went to the kitchen, and sat at my table. I sat there reading till the wife came home. She walked in complaining about the grey mutt dog that was clawing at the side of the house. She said I could kill it if I wanted. I knew I was still married to her for a reason. Then I thought about the young fool’s clothes and the smell of death in a hound’s nostrils. I ran outside as fast as my old scarred legs could carry me.
I wanted to make the dog suffer; so when I got close to it, I took my knife and grabbed hold of the damned beast by the neck. I began to choke it as I stabbed at its glazed sickly eyes. It bled till it stopped bleeding and gasped for air until it stopped breathing. It was dead.
The wife, who had probably come out to make sure my jeans didn’t get stained up too badly, was pointing at the house. As one of its last acts, the stupid creature had knocked down a wooden board blocking the space between the foundations of the house. This revealed to my woman a clue to my act.
She approached the house and gathered up the torn remains of a white, bloodstained shirt and a pair of jeans, as well as some other less mentionable articles of clothing. “What were these doing here?” she asked in her usual unattractive weak voice. A tag stood out of one of the unmentionable items and my wife read it aloud. “Ryan Welcreast," she said.
"What sort of infant wrote his name in his underwear?" I shouted in my head.
The name searched my wife’s small brain for a place in her memory to call home. She finally said, “Was that the boy we hired to do some work for us?”
I remarked that the name sounded familiar, and thought that my wife’s name would look particularly nice carved into a gravestone. I decided against bashing her head into the wall, knowing I would need someone to prepare my breakfast.
“I guess he must have gotten himself into a scuff and lost his clothes,” I said prolonging her confusion. “You should probably fix them up for him. I’ll make sure to give them to him when he returns next week.”
She tried to say something but I covered her mouth. Like the obedient wife, she pretended as though she did not speak. I went into the house to smoke and think as the godliness of the murder faded into the anxiety of a normal man’s life.
It was nine o’clock when the pretty girl showed up at the house crying. She said she was looking for her husband who worked my field. He had not arrived home in the hours since his shift had ended. I explained to her that a nice woman had taken him to her home; she left infuriated.
My wife, who had overheard me speaking to this woman from the kitchen, asked me about what I had said. When I did not answer, she said, “I hope you burned the body,” and went on with her work. I cared for that woman so very much at that moment, and I somewhat regretted my frequent secret desire to see her life end by my hands.
The clothes served no purpose. I could not fit into them. They were used by my wife to make a quilt, which did not make me unhappy. I sometimes would sit in my rocking chair wrapped in the quilt and think about the stupid boy who had died to make it and how pleasant it was putting an end to him.
Soon the world became cold with the winter. I took on workers to assist me in maintaining the grounds. The memory of my past action was fading, and even the quilt could not bring back the feeling of pulling the trigger and killing the man. After much thought, I decided to repeat the crime just once more. Robert, one of the older workers, had a wife who brought him lunch each day. I wondered what it would be like to hide her body just out of the way of the land he worked. I thought about watching him suffer each day. He would be alone and cold, working for a man who had taken his life away; a man who paid him only enough to continue his meaningless suffering.
On the first day of December of a uniquely unexciting year, approximately three years after my first victim's death, I had a party thrown to celebrate nothing and invited both my employees. I also invited the members of my church. For the first hour of the party I walked in the woods. It was freezing cold but my blood was afire. As far as I could see, this was one of the few times of true pleasure existing in my life.
After the correct amount of time had passed, my wife did as I had ordered. She was to send Robert's wife to bring me my coffee in my favorite green mug and to invite me to join with the others. I played on the cold ground of a hiking path and closed my eyes. I would appear to be either dead or dying, and the woman would come to help. At the ideal moment, I would take hold of my knife and cut her body open. I would rip and tear at her weak being as much as I could have ever dreamed.
After some time, I heard soft murmuring and I felt the woman’s warm hand on my cold chest. I opened my eyes to see the fly to my spider. She was fat and her face was wrinkled almost more so than mine. While she left something to be desired as a woman, she would be a lovely corpse. I grabbed hold of her and clawed at her meat; then as I hissed into her ear to disturb her dying soul, I slit her throat. I heard panicked breathing and then a scream. It sounded like a man being boiled alive. A large muscular hand grabbed me by the throat. It was Robert, whose wife I had just so joyfully murdered. His face was full of a strange anger, not warranted by the situation. He was drooling, crying and sweating, making his face altogether too wet.
I was going to offer the man a cloth to wipe himself off with before he killed me. That was the only way I could see the situation being resolved. There was the sound of a gunshot and my attacker’s head split open. In the dark I could see Sara holding my gun. At this moment she had created a sense of trust. I had not felt such a strong sense since I was a young man. We stripped the bodies of their clothing and buried them right there beneath rich soil, dead leaves, and the dry shells of cicadas. Both of us smiled as we left.
The party concluded several hours later. By the time we had returned, the guests were far too drunk to notice their friends were no longer present. When the last of the party guests departed, Sara and I sat and talked about little things such as the creaking of the floorboards and the chirping of the birds. She was making me a quilt, including some extremely familiar materials, the entire time. This was a wonderful evening. I yawned and ascended the stairs to my bedroom. Tomorrow would be a day of rest for a God fearing man. Sunday was tomorrow. I had been asked to do the reading at the weekly service.