About two years ago, I began working on (yet another) writing project. When I began writing, I had originally imagined a Kerouac-esque journey of personal and spiritual proportions. What ended up on the page was something I never planned on. So, here, without going on too long about it, is the introduction to my book Pancakes In Yuma. If you like it, let me know and I will post the rest chapter by chapter.
WARNING – Strong Language and “situations”.
Pancakes In Yuma – written by James M McCullock
Patience is a virtue. I have had to learn that the hard way. I waited my whole life for the dreams I had as a child to simply fall into my lap. No working towards those dreams. No making choices that would lead me to the path I needed to take. I was on a couch ride through the scenes of my life.
Now I find myself in this place where my identity is in question every single moment of every single day. “Who would I have been if I had made a different choice in that moment?” “What could I have become if I had simply stuck it out?” And on, and on, and…
I am not going to bore you with the same self hatred bullshit you have read a million and one times in just as many books. I am not even going to bore you with some fucked up story of how I became the man I am. I am going to jump right in and tell you the truth. I love to kill people.
I was 23 years old. I had moved away from my home town to see if the change in locale would help me to focus. Help me to complete something I had started, for a change. What a fool. Even at 23 my choices were as blind to me as they could possibly be. I moved from wonderfully sunny San Diego, California to Seattle, Washington.
So, just to clarify it for you – in case you are a fucking idiot- I moved from a place where depression could not reach me if I simply walked outside, to a place where depression was in abundance. Don’t get me wrong, Seattle was a beautiful town. I loved it there; the markets, the culture, the rain, the drugs, the isolation and despair. All of it was wonderfully delicious to a young man who hated everything about himself.
Oops. Sorry. I said I wouldn’t do that.
At some point in my time living in the Emerald City, I took to walking. Sometimes I would walk all day long; anywhere and everywhere. I probably know Seattle better than some people who have lived there their entire lives.
On one of my afternoon walks to the U district, I ran into a girl who worked at a burrito shop near my house. She and I had been flirting for some time, and we eventually ended up fucking. We fucked all night long, and then I freaked out. I couldn’t handle what I believed to be a responsibility that now sat upon my shoulders, so I stopped talking to her completely.
I stopped to get a slice of pizza, and there she was. We started to talk, and ended up having a wonderful time. She was completely accepting of my reaction and had no ill will towards me at all. Even though it was a rainy day, she decided to accompany me on my walk across the University of Washington campus.
I loved to walk across the campus on rainy days. I can’t explain why, it was just so beautiful to me. I would walk into the different buildings and pretend to be a student looking for a class. I would sit outside Odegaard Library and watch the students run from class to class, or congregate on the Central Campus Quad under the glorious pink cherry blossoms.
So, pizza in hand we made our way around the campus in the rain. As we passed Miller Hall heading towards the north end of the campus, she stops me and says, “Want to see something really creepy?” I respond as any red-blooded American male would, “Of course!”
She led me towards the north end of campus. We walked past the Jacobsen Observatory and crossed 45th making our way up 17th. I followed, looking around at the neighborhood but not really paying much attention to where we were going. After what seemed like mere moments she stopped in front of a small house and pointed to an upstairs room. “Ted Bundy lived there.”
The feeling that washed over me is impossible to describe. I knew quite a bit about Bundy. I knew quite a bit about most serial killers. I had become fascinated with them at an early age. I was initially intrigued by the story of Mary Bell. It had never occurred to me that children could be serial killers. Mary Bell was ahead of her time.
As I looked at the room that once housed the man who killed 29 women, maybe more, I could see each murder as if I were the one committing them. Saw myself killing the 18 year old girl from Evergreen State. Saw my hands around the throat of the 17 year old in Utah. And it just kept going and going. Like a checklist of victims, each one so real to me, so vivid in my head.
All of a sudden, I was overcome by a paralyzing fear. I had never before, and have not since, felt such extreme terror. It is important that you understand, I was not afraid because of the reality of Bundy’s crimes. I was afraid of the fact that I was feeling a rush of pleasure at reliving them in my mind. I enjoyed it.
I was surprised by just how much blood there was. I had anticipated there being blood, of course, but certainly not this much. I was also surprised at just how difficult it was to get through the spine. It always looked so easy in the movies. Just a quick “chop” and you were suddenly holding up a severed head by its hair. Not true. It takes a lot more work than it seems. And, man, there is a shit-load of blood. I was smart and began the dismembering in the tub. That made it much easier to clean up. However, the reality of the situation was far too great for me to actually enjoy the experience. Since it was my first, I was entirely too methodical and intense to relax and “smell the roses” so to speak. I over analyzed my every move, trying to make sure I was smart about the whole thing. Make sure I wouldn’t get caught.
You would have laughed at me if you had seen me getting ready to go out that night. I wrapped my arms and legs in saran wrap to make sure no hairs fell off leaving a tag behind with my DNA. Wore gloves, of course, and even toyed with the idea of wearing a shower cap, or even a bald cap. It took me longer to get ready to go out to kill than it did to actually do the killing. In the end, I went with your basic black number. I also wore a skullcap and sunglasses. I thought about a fake moustache, but that just seemed too cheesy; too cliché.
I had planned on making a career of this, so I had to figure out who I wanted my victims to be and why. I didn’t hate women at all. In fact, I decided early on that I would kill no women and no children. I know this is going to sound silly, but it just didn’t seem right. So, it had to be men. I was going to be killing men. Problem was, I was entirely too apathetic to figure out a reason why. Just about every serial killer had a reason for the things they did. Angry at mom and dad, rejected at school, extreme isolation, abuse or just plain insanity. I couldn’t seem to find any reason other than, I just wanted to. I just wanted to kill people. I knew I’d be good at it. I know that sounds arrogant, but don’t rush to judgment. Keep reading, and I guarantee you will end up agreeing with me. Serial murder is what I was born to do. I am an artist, and the human body is my medium.
You must think it is pretty scary how I can talk about all of this without an ounce of regret or any emotion at all about the things I have done. You could possibly care less. If that’s the case then, welcome to the party pal.
I planned my first one for months. I decided I’d start with a frat boy, just because I find them annoying. Beer bonging date raping assholes who trade in their intelligence for a house full of guys who constantly need to measure their dicks. I am guessing you have figured out who my victims are and why. Be honest. Can you blame me?
I went over all of the details, again and again. Walked the path of the event to come, just to see how busy the area was at different times of the day. Fraternity row was surprisingly empty, and often. There were the weekend parties that bled out onto the front porch and lawn. Other than that, it was a cake walk. I just needed to decide which one I wanted. I went with a football player.
By the time I was in the eighth grade, I knew just about all there was to know about the most popular of the serial killers throughout history. My favorite at the time was Jack the Ripper. That eventually changed, but let me get back to Saucy Jack. He never got caught. Never got caught, never got caught, never got caught. Jack killed five women that are known of. All of them prostitutes and each murder more gruesome than the one before it. The murders I found the most interesting; the evening of the “Double Event”.
He began his evening with Elizabeth Stride, also known as ‘Long Liz”. He didn’t get to finish her because he was interrupted, which allowed him only enough time to slit her throat. When she was found, her wound was still gushing blood.
In his frustration and anger at not being able to fulfill his dark desires, he found Catherine Eddowes. Poor Catherine paid dearly for the incomplete murder of Long Liz. Catherine was mutilated and shit on. Saucy Jack was pissed. Two weeks later, Jack mailed half a kidney to George Lusk; The Chairman of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee. Jack love to fuck with good old George.
It was near the tail end of my eighth grade year that Ted Bundy confessed to eight of the Washington murders. This dark day seemed to mark the end of the truly intriguing serial murderers. I mean, there was Richard Ramirez; but he was a tool. I find all that Satan shit to be annoying. There is nothing inspiring about a 25 year old child. Fuck that guy. The Night Stalker: What a joke.
So, I began to look back through history again for any other artists whose work I found inspiring. There was Gacy, Fisk, H.H. Holmes, and many others. True visionaries, who left an indelible mark on the face of history by merely adding a little fascination to the daily lives of people who were simply doing time on Earth. However, as much as I hate to admit it, I was getting bored.
My graduation gift when I finally escaped the prison that was high school was the arrest of Andrei Chikatilo in Russia. Nicknamed the Butcher of Rostov and ‘The Red Ripper,’ he was convicted of the murder of 52 women and children in the Russian Soviet Republic between 1978 and 1990. The age of the prolific madman was back.
Since my football player was much larger than myself, I needed to figure out how I was going to subdue him and get him back to my apartment without being seen. I joined a gym, and for the next three months I worked on my upper body strength. I worked out enough to get myself to a point where I would be able to lift my victim all on my own.
The other problem I needed to address during this time was how to subdue the guy. I looked into different drugs and chemicals, but there would be no way for me to acquire any of these things without leaving a trail that led right to my door. So, I decided to go old school. I’d slit his throat.
The night before the big event was like the night before Christmas. I was unable to sleep because I was far too excited. All the next day I couldn’t concentrate. I actually got sick at work; threw up in the restroom. Nice thing about that is I was able to leave work early. The bad thing about that is I had to go home, where the minutes ticked by like hours. I paced my apartment, unable to find anything to distract myself long enough to actually pass the time. I prepared the bathroom for the dismemberment. Set out all of my tools, and constantly rearranged them like some O.C.D. motherfucker. I laid down saran wrap from the front door to the bathroom to keep the blood off the rug. I had no idea if it would actually work, but it was something to do while I waited. It dawned on me as I did this, he might bleed from the van to the door. I had to come up with a way to avoid this bread crumb trail, so that I wouldn’t get busted after just one play date. I had to take him somewhere I could let him bleed out first. I knew exactly where to go.
After the experience at Bundy’s old house, I walked to a nearby bookstore and bought a book on anatomy and the latest copy of Fangoria. When I got home, I made myself a sandwich, poured a glass of iced tea, sat in my favorite chair and started to read through the anatomy book. I was bored out of my mind. I expected the same rush I had experienced at the Bundy house. I felt nothing. Well, that’s not true. I felt fucking bored.
Over the next few months I learned of gorgeous hiking trails only 20 minutes out of the city. I would stop at the local co-op and buy myself a loaf of Sheppard’s bread (un-sliced), a jar of natural peanut butter with the oil on top, and a bottle of water. I would place my items into my over the shoulder survival pack I had stolen from a home in New York, and head out to the mountains.
You wouldn’t believe the beauty I witnessed. 10 foot waterfalls that turned into streams rushing past your feet. A canopy of trees so large the sunlight allowed through was just enough to brighten the path in a lovely joyful light. Birds would sing high above you, and sometimes even right next to you on a tree or even on the trail. It was like walking through a live action Disney film. I felt truly happy. Happy enough to forget all about the darkness that had started to invade my soul.
I tried to make friends, and I did. However, none of them became truly close friends. I was hanging out with people I felt no connection with. I truly had no one, and had never felt so alone in my life. As much as the forest would subdue my murderous thoughts, the city would only reinforce them. Make them grow.
After I had lived in Seattle for just over a year, I decided to move back to California, back to San Diego. A good friend of mine offered me a place to stay until I got on my feet. I got myself a job at a used bookstore, and found a little studio apartment in the middle of town. It was way too expensive for its size and had no assigned parking. But, it was my own place, and that was all that mattered. Also, I lived right around the corner from where I worked and I was near an incredible Greek restaurant and Landmark Cinemas. It was a good neighborhood. Even so, I knew it wasn’t the place for me. It was visually far too busy, with way too much neon. I hate neon.
I moved to a different neighborhood as soon as my lease was up. It was a much quieter neighborhood, much older too. There was a definite sense of community, with mom and pop businesses up and down the street. I’d rather buy my coffee at a place called Joe’s than give my money to one of the evil coffee empires. Best of all, the neighborhood had an amazing pizza place. That alone was enough to sell me on the area.
I was able to rent a really nice one bedroom apartment for the same price as the studio I had just left. Even for a one bedroom it was spacious as all hell. I was able to fit all of my belongings into the apartment, and still have room. All I needed was a couch.
My big night had finally arrived. I got dressed as if I were getting ready for the prom. I decided to use the knife on my multi-tool for the big boy’s throat. I know that sounds like overkill, pardon the pun, but I figured it was better to have it and not need than to need it and not have it. Plus, it came with a belt holster, so it was easy to conceal on my person and was easy to access when I needed it.
I waited near the spot where he parked his car in the student lot. I was scared and excited at the same time. All the things that could possibly go wrong ran over and over through my mind. I could fuck up the slice; not go deep enough. I could be seen by someone, and have campus security on my ass before I could get away. He could see me before I was able to sneak up on him. I was so caught up in my head that I almost missed him when he arrived.
I was hiding behind a Hummer 2, or H2; I am not sure what to call the damn thing. Why anyone would need a car the size of a small apartment is beyond me. Whenever I see someone driving one of things I think to myself, “Sorry about your penis.”
I am sorry for the tangent. I just get pissed off sometimes and my mind wanders.
So, I was hiding behind an H2 just across from his spot. I had parked in the spot next to him, and that didn’t go unnoticed. As he exited his car, he gave my van the once over. It was when he went to his trunk to pull out all of his football gear that I struck. I moved like a cat. I was so fast and so silent; I was momentarily distracted realizing this. I mean, come on, wouldn’t you be surprised after a day like mine? Next thing I knew, I was on him. My arm crossed his neck and I realized I hadn’t taken out my fucking multi-tool.
Panic! I lost my cool. He flailed around, trying his best to shake me off. In my moment of distraction, I hadn’t noticed I had him so tightly around his neck he wasn’t able to breath and all of the blood was being blocked from his head. His struggling began to subside, and eventually I had him down on the concrete completely passed out. I stood looking down at him amazed at my luck. I didn’t have to worry about his throat any longer, or trying to drug him. I could take him somewhere and figure out my style, in my own time. How wonderful.
I dragged him to the van, and despite my working out I had some trouble getting him into the back. Finally, I had completed my task and with great anxiety I looked around the garage to see if I had drawn any attention. Again, something occurred to me; I hadn’t bothered to check if the garage had cameras. I looked up expecting the absolute worst. I knew I would fuck this up somehow. I had screwed up in the most unintelligent way possible. I’m smarter than that, yet I hadn’t even – well, you get it.
Again, luck was a lady that night. No cameras, no witnesses, no need to worry at all. I crawled into the back of the van with my new friend and closed the door behind me. Just to make sure he didn’t surprise me by waking up before I could get to the proving grounds, I used my tire iron to give him a couple of quick bangs to the head. I then used the bungee cords I had in the van to “tie” him up. Once I was happy that he was completely subdued, I climbed into the drivers seat and began to cry like a child. I was disgusted with myself for such weakness on my part. What the fuck was I doing crying? God, I make myself sick sometimes.
I pulled myself together, started up the van, and drove out of the parking garage towards the place I had chosen to let him bleed. The whole time I was driving, I kept looking behind me at my new friend. I even tilted my rear view mirror down so I could keep an eye on him at all times. He groaned a couple of times, and I almost shit myself.
After what seemed like forever, I had finally arrived. It was time for my first art project. The time had come for me to finally realize my own style. My first thought was to Saucy Jack his ass. Remove his organs and sprinkle them throughout the area. I also needed to figure out what I was going to take as my trophy. The decision of what my trophy would be was the thing I was most looking forward to that day. Now, since my entire situation had changed, I was more excited by the fact that I didn’t have to slit his throat and I had time to play. It was exhilarating.
I pulled out the kit I had packed at home. I took out my hacksaw, my cordless drill and every single one of my drill bits, a small collection of knives to choose from and, for some reason, a spackle knife. Don’t ask, I don’t have an answer.
I was just about to get started when I remembered the reason I had brought him to this place to begin with. I brought him here to bleed him out. I felt a mild moment of disappointment that was replaced by the realization that I would be able to play with him in my own home. I could put him in the tub, grab a beer, watch a little TV, and maybe even grab something to eat. There was no rush. If I needed to, I could call in sick to work and catch up on any sleep I may have missed depending on how long it would take me to finish.
I crawled into the back of the van, and opened the back door. With a quick look around, I reached into the van and pulled my friend out of the van just enough to get his head drooping over the bumper. I took out my multi tool, and opened the blade attachment. Then something I hadn’t expected happened; I hesitated. I was looking down at a human being I was planning to kill. The reality of that hit me like a ton of bricks. I had been so arrogant to think this would be easy. To think I would have no feeling about doing this, and it would be a simple as brushing my teeth. What the fuck?
So, there I was. Knife in hand, football player at the ready, and the perfect location for my crime. Yet, there I stood like an idiot savant, unable to perform the very act I had been so excited about all day. I just kept saying to myself, “Do it.” “Get it over with.” “I can’t do this.” “What was I thinking?” I was too caught up in the fantasy.” “Just cut him, and you will feel so much better.” “Do it.” “Do it.” “DO IT!”
I felt as though I had just snapped out of a waking dream. I looked down and the football player was leaking scarlet from a huge slice in his neck. It was so deep; his head was almost completely severed. I looked at my hands and they were covered in blood, as were my clothes. It sunk in that I had not only committed the crime, but that I had missed the whole fucking thing. I was, once again, so in my own head I completely blacked out and had no recollection of actually cutting my friends throat. Fuck! That sucks!
I watched as the blood drained from his neck and ran down his face and into his hair. It was strange to watch the blood pulse from the wound with each beating of his dying heart. Now that I think about it, it was actually kind of creepy.
I had done it. I had performed my first kill. Begun my first work in what would hopefully become a long career. Then the reality of it all hit me, and I threw up. I wiped my mouth and grabbed the shovel I had brought with me out of the van. I began to throw dirt over the blood and of course over the puke. I had no idea if they could get DNA out of vomit, but I didn’t want to take any chances. As the blood flow began to slow down, I worked with the shovel until the ground was completely covered and no blood was seeping through. All in all, it took me about two hours.
I wrapped my friends entire upper body in a large trash bag, then taped it up tightly with duct tape and pushed him back into the van. I quickly changed my clothes, hopped into the drivers’ seat and went home.
Getting that fucking jerkoff into my house was a much bigger problem than I had anticipated. For as much as I talked about being OCD with my preparation, I didn’t think of all of the really important shit. I had been lucky so far. Let’s see if the next few minutes would be just as lucky, or if the hero of this story falls before his time. I stood before Excalibur. Could I be the one to pull it from the stone?
I did, however, have one thing that might up my luck factor. I had brought my p-coat with me. Best I could hope for would be to put my coat around him and carry him to my apartment like a drunken friend. On my way into the house I could throw out the occasional “You dumbass! Why are Earth would you try to fight 5 guys?” It might help to explain the blood to any nosey neighbors that may happen to take a gander out their window. It sounded so good in my mind, but so did everything else that ended up falling apart.
I removed the tape and the bag from his chest, and used one of my oil rags to clean him up as much as I could. I took his shirt off and put it on him backwards. There was far too much blood on the front of his shirt for it to not look bad to anyone who may pass by. Then I lifted him up, as best I could, and slipped my coat over his shoulders. My skull cap also came in handy as a way to cover his head. Once he was dressed for the journey, it was time to get him home.
I thought that the blood loss would make him easier to lift. No so. This motherfucker was heavier than before, if you can believe that. I finally managed to get him out of the van and onto his feet with his arm draped around me. “You stupid bastard,” I said as I walked toward my apartment. “Why in the hell did you have to drink so much?” I didn’t want to say any more than that. Thought I might overdo it and make it look suspicious. We made it all the way to the foot of my stairs and then I realized, I had to get him up the stairs. Shit!
It was like lifting a Volkswagen bug up a hill. This big boy was fucking heavy. And, despite all my working out, I had a tough time. I was starting to get nervous. I had to drag him up the stairs, and if anyone saw me they might offer to help. That would be really bad. After what felt like a week, I got him up the stairs and into my apartment. Once I had opened the door, pulled him inside, and closed the door behind me, I dropped his ass onto the saran wrap I had so brilliantly laid on the floor. Finally, something I planned worked out.
Just as I was reveling in my own brilliance, the door made the worst possible noise. “Knock, knock!”