The scratch of pen against paper filled the small space eerily. I regretted not donning my heavy coat, jail cells were always uncomfortable. I suppose they wouldn't be very effective if they weren't. The large man seated before me was clad in orange and bad decisions. His face was unshaven, his eyes sunken. It was difficult to reconcile the man with the file. He was accused of a gruesome beating and murder that had made national news.

“Please, start from the beginning, leave nothing out,” I told him.

He licked his lips, unsure of how much he could trust me. I sighed. “Everything you tell me is privileged under threat of disbarment. Not even the President himself could make me disclose it to him. And if he did, it wouldn't be admissible in court. Now, please. Begin.”

The orange man relaxed somewhat. “It started a few months ago. I had been dating this girl for a while. We had met through a friend and it was going pretty good. I took her home one night, we were both pretty fucking drunk. I don't remember too good, but I think she knocked my TV off the wall. She was zig-zagging all over the damn place, and she ran straight into the fucking thing. Well, like I said, I was piss drunk, and that thing was expensive. I was mad as hell. But I was calm about it, you always gotta be calm so you don't spook 'em.”

I interrupted him. “I'm sorry, what do you mean 'always'? Are you implying that this isn't your first time.” The man chuckled. “Oh, hell no, mister. That case in Las Vegas a couple months back, that was me too. Some poor bastard who checked in on the hotel room after I was gone got that one pinned on him. Then there was that one in Oregon, California, that real unfortunate one in Wisconsin. It's not my first rodeo.”

I nodded. People in my line of work are difficult to shock. “I'm sorry, I interrupted you.” The man cleared his throat.

“Well, like I said, I was mad as hell. The girl had done broke the one nice thing I own. I got her into my bed, put one o' them blindfolds on her. She was into that kinda thing, wasn't too hard to convince her. I went into the kitchen and came back with a butcher's knife, one of them big suckers. I heated the thing up over a fire. When I came back into the room, the stupid bitch had no idea what was comin' for her. I put one of those ball gags in her mouth to stop her screamin', and she was already tied up so there was no chance of her gettin' away. The heat of the knife was enough to cauterize the wounds too, no mess.”

I interrupted again, “I'm sorry, if you used a hot knife, why was there blood on the pillow?” The man sighed. “Well, I ain't proud of it, but I keep a baseball bat under my bed to scare off any would be robbers. I was practically livid by that point, so I went to work with that thing first.”

I raised my hand. “Be specific, please. Where did you strike her, how hard, how many times?” I was taking careful notes. His eyebrow raised, “Why in the world do you need to know that?”

I put my pen down for a moment, “My job is to know what I need to know, your job is to tell me. Now, answer the question please.”

The inmate nodded, “I reckon I hit her two or three times with the handle of the thing on the forehead. And a couple times each in the legs and arms. Then I set to work with the knife. I carved her arms, legs, and stomach up pretty good. The killin' blow was most likely around her ribcage. I went a little too deep, ended things sooner 'an I would have liked.”

The scratch of the pen filled the room once more. I picked up my notebook. “Would you mind if I read back some of my notes, to make sure they're accurate?” I asked.

The man spread his hands, “By all means.”

I adjusted my glasses, “You began with two blows to the forehead, and then two to the upper extremities, followed by superficial cutting injuries with a heated knife to each limb, and the stomach. When you reached the ribcage, you accidentally applied too much pressure and stopped her heart.”

I looked up, questioningly. “Is that all correct?”

“Sounds about right to me,” he replied.

I stood, taking my notepad with me. “Wait here, I will be back shortly.”

I left the room, and returned minutes later with a guard and release papers. “I've paid your bail,” I addressed him.

“That's mighty kind of ya,” he said, genuinely.

The policeman wrestled with the rusty, iron lock for a moment, and then pulled it open. The prisoner fell in step behind me, and we passed through a second set of doors, controlled by an electric lock. The hallway was long, and empty. Our footsteps echoed eerily. Once the man's personal items had been returned, I took him to my car.

“I've rented a hotel room, you'll stay there with me tonight.” He did not object. I dropped him off, told him my room number, and handed him a keycard.

“I need to do some shopping, I'll be back soon.

When I returned to the room, the man was sitting on the bed, watching TV. He almost didn't hear me come in the front door. I put my things down, and began unpacking my bags. I spoke as I did so.

“You know, some people are calling you the most hated man in the country right now,” I told him.

“Yeah, I've gotten that before. Notorious serial killers don't tend to get medals.”

I chuckled at that. “'Don't get medals,' you're a funny man, you know that?” I said, approaching the bed.

He laughed, “Sometimes I can be.”

I leaned over him, “You know who will never get to be funny again? Nicole Bloom.” I snapped the restraints onto his wrists before he knew what was happening. The blindfold slipped easily over his eyes, and the ball gag over his mouth. He struggled, but to no avail.

“Two little girls, that's who you've made orphans, Mr. Green. Two beautiful children who will grow up in foster care because of you,” I slid the baseball bat out of the bag, bringing it down on his head twice in succession. His arms and legs soon followed. He screamed, but the sound was muffled by the ball gag, and sounded more like choking.

“A young woman with her whole life ahead of her, dead because of you. And why? You got 'piss drunk' and couldn't help yourself,” I procured the knife from the bag, and held it against the lighter until it glowed red.

“Why should she be dead while you crack jokes?” I parted the skin on his leg, but was careful not to press too deeply. Slowly, and methodically, I dragged it across his limbs, leaving scalded marks and the smell of burnt flesh in its wake. His screams had turned to shrill shrieks, and his thrashings had reached fish-out-of-water proportions.

“Don't worry Fred, it's almost over.” I smiled. The knife reached his stomach, and then pressed slowly, but deeply, into his chest cavity, extinguishing his life. I waited a moment to confirm that he was dead. His breath was gone, his pulse silent.

I rolled a large, police body bag out from my suitcase, and hauled the body into it. My friend at the morgue would deal with him. Soon he would just be another John Doe at the local hospital. I stuffed him into the corner, smoothed my suit out, and polished my glasses. Straightening, I cracked my back, and smiled with contentment. Whistling, I stepped over the body and began the walk back down to the police station. It was only noon, after all.

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