Pancakes In Yuma by James M McCullock
“I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure.”
– Clarence Darrow
You know, I never hurt animals when I was a kid. I read somewhere that most serial killers hurt animals when they are young; Preparing themselves for bigger things. I never did that. I love animals, and don’t believe I could ever hurt one. Well, there was that little rat-dog I had to endure while living in my studio I constantly thought about killing. Doing so, however, would have been justifiable homicide. That fucking dog never shut up. It would yap constantly when the lesbian that owned it was home, and then whine incessantly when she was gone. I wanted to kill that fucking dog. What I really wanted to do was to nail the damn thing to a crucifix then hang it on that bitches door with a sign that said, “He died for your sins.”
There’s that famous picture of the “sculpture” Jeffery Dahmer made in the woods near his house of a dogs head skewered on top of a stake. He did this quite a bit with the animals he killed. When he was young, he was apparently fascinated with dead animals and would often practice taxidermy on road kill. I guess I understand it. Some sort of power thing he needed because he felt helpless and unloved; Boo-fucking-hoo. I don’t mean to sound insensitive, well, yeah, I do. The dude wanted to make living zombies for Gods sake. What a fucking freak, huh? However, that crime scene photo of the corpse in his bathtub was pretty damn cool. That is until I found out he used to shower with it. That’s just gross, man.
Let me get back to my point though. Berkowitz, Bundy, DeSalvo, Kemper. All of them hurt animals when they were kids. Richard Davis, the asshole who killed Polly Klass, used to set cats on fire. There’s a story that he laughed when his own dog broke its neck chasing after a boulder he had pushed down a hill. There’s no honor in that, in killing animals. There should be a form of capital punishment where one of these dick-knuckles gets put in a cage with a tiger, or a bear. Better yet, set them adrift on a log in a river full of hippos. That’s entertainment.
I, myself, never hurt animals. As I said, I love them. I even worked for an animal shelter for a while. It was too hard for me though; I became too attached to the animals and was too overprotective of them when people came to adopt them. I was eventually fired for yelling at a couple who came to adopt a dog. They were completely ignoring the fact that their children were running loose around the shelter screaming while they looked for a pet. I hated the idea of one of my buddies going with these people. I looked the parents right in the eye and said,” You have no business adopting a dog when you can’t even care for your own fucking kids.” I then turned to the father and said, “Get fixed, moron.” He grabbed me and put me in a head lock. I was suddenly reminded of eighth grade. As soon as he touched me, the entire kennel went crazy. All my buddies wanted to tear this guy a new one for touching me. They were trying to protect me. I was fired immediately.
There is a happy ending to the story though. Because all of the dogs started barking, the couple decided not to adopt any of them because they seemed too aggressive. I may have lost my job, but I saved my pals from those morons.
I find that to this day I wonder why I am so different from those who have gone before me. To tell the truth, it’s giving me a bit of a complex. Is my lack in similarity a serious flaw on my part? Does it keep me from truly joining the ranks of the elite? I may kill more people than anyone in history, but my background, my reasons, do they make me less than all the others.
Funny thing is, I don’t even try to fit in. When most killers are caught, you’ll hear people say things like, “He looked so normal,” or, “He was always such a nice man.” I am neither, and I don’t try to be. I am a royal asshole. I fucking hate people. Consideration has all but disappeared from the world. There are no neighborhoods any longer. Kids can’t come home, do their homework, then go up the street to play at their buddy’s house. There are too many freaks out there. I believe what’s happening to children is by far the most tragic thing to happen with the world in recent times. Global warming, terrorism, W.M.D’s, World War III, and the prophecies of Nostradamus don’t hold a candle to the fact that kids can’t be kids any more. So, I choose to show my protest by being a fucking asshole to people. Addendum: If I come across the rare polite person, then that makes me happy. To this day I still say “please” and “thank you.” There is absolutely nothing wrong with having manners. So, when I meet someone who smiles when I smile, or says hello to me, I feel hope for the world. All I have to do is get into my car and drive for that feeling to vanish. I wish people’s license plates were their cell phone number. That way you could call them up and say, “You’re a fucking tool!” My favorites are people who feel the need to haul ass through a parking garage. What in the hell is the matter with these people? I’ll tell you what’s wrong with them; they don’t give a shit. No one else in the world exists but them.
The drivers I find to be the rudest are those damn fish Christians. You know the ones I am talking about. The ones with that little fish symbol on the back of their car. They are the worst, most inconsiderate drivers on the road.
I guess by now you have figured one of my main talents is the tangent. Get me talking about milk and by the time I am finished we’ll be talking about ancient Egypt. It’s a gift. I only hope I don’t lose you along the way. I still haven’t convinced you of just how good I am at my chosen profession. At this point, I am still a complete fuck up. As Stan Lee would say, “stay with me true believer.” I’ll get you there, I promise. And believe me; it’ll be worth the wait.
After moving into my new apartment, I found a better paying job as a cable man. I drove around to peoples houses and set up their cable, phone and/or internet. It was a cool job. I was on the road all day, I got free cable, phone and internet, plus I was allowed into peoples houses under the belief that it was safe to do so.
It was difficult not to think of BTK during this time. He used the guise of phone repair as a means of entering his victim’s home. He also used the, “My car broke down, can I use your phone?” Most of the time, he had broken in ahead of time and waited for his “projects”, as he called them, to come home.
BTK, whose real name was Dennis Rader (another animal killer), claimed he tried to change up his M.O. in order to throw off the police. He didn’t want them to realize there was a serial killer in town. He hadn’t counted on something though; three men confessed to his crimes.
Being the egotistical man that he was, he was enraged. He wrote a letter which he hid in an engineering book in the Wichita library. He then called Don Granger of the Wichita Eagle and informed him of the letters location. Thus began an ongoing communication with the press and police.
As his killings escalated, so did his arrogance, He began to complain about not being mentioned in the press, and wrote “How many do I have to kill before I get my name in the paper or some national attention?” The funny thing about Rader is, even after his arrest, he tried so hard to portray himself as an intelligent man who was way too smart for the police. Yet, his grammar and usage in each of his letters was abysmal, and his testimony was almost embarrassing. For someone who was so good at hiding in plain site, maybe even the best, he was a complete intellectual wannabe.
I was actually excited by the whole BTK thing. Even his name was cool; BTK. I subscribed to the Wichita Eagle just so I could follow the story. I was disappointed in him for his choice of victims, however. As you know, I don’t approve of women and children; especially children. His letters were fun to read though, and those pictures he took of himself were a blast. The pictures could almost be called installation art. He took pictures of himself all tied up, wearing a mask and his victims clothing in his parents basement. Went out to the woods somewhere and again dressed in his victims clothing, bondage and a mask. While in the woods, he took a series of pictures with himself lying on a huge sheet of plastic, lying in a freshly dug grave and, my personal favorite, hanging from a tree branch. That “flying pixie” picture makes me laugh every time.
Rader could have been a true genius in my eyes, if only he had made better choices. His style was truly intriguing, but his needs were all fucked up.
The best part about Rader though? He was a member of Christ Lutheran Church, a Lutheran congregation of about 200 people. He had been a member for about 30 years and had been elected president of the Congregation Council. I am most pleased by those killers who are deeply religious. It is the true symbol of the blatant hatred and hypocrisy religion has spread across the country. I don’t want this to become some statement though. This is supposed to be my story. The only reason I keep bringing these killers up is to give you some idea as to who my influences are. Give you a better understanding of my work.
Someone was knocking on my door. My heart dropped and I was unable to breathe. Was it all over before it had even begun? I stood there unable to move, completely unaware of the fact that I wasn’t moving. I wish I could have seen my own face. I probably would have laughed at myself.
“Knock, knock!” The second knock snapped me out of it, and because of some deep survival instinct I began to look around my apartment. How the fuck was I going to get out of this one? It occurred to me that the person knocking had not identified themselves as the police, so that was something. I dropped the body I was still holding and began to take off my clothes. I stripped to my boxers, and began to rub my eyes so hard I was in serious danger of making them raw. I hadn’t turned on my light yet, so I believed I could play off my little improvisation. After a deep breath, I grabbed the door handle and opened the door.
I opened the door just a crack, and in a very sleepy voice said, “Hello?”
My fear turned to anger as it sunk in that the knock at the door was my crazy neighbor Ed.
“What the fuck do you want, Ed?”
“I remembered you work for a cable company, and I was wondering if you could help me. I was in the middle of a battle with a high level mage, when my darn internet crashed. Any way you could help me out?”
Without even bothering to answer him, I slammed the door shut. As he spoke it seriously crossed my mind to add him to the little party I was throwing in my apartment. That fucking geek had scared the shit out of me over a goddamn video game. I was so angry, I was still considering going over to his place and getting some closure. I didn’t want to walk around with this anger forever. I could pull a BTK and go over under the guise of helping him with his internet. Then, I could push a Phillips head screwdriver through his temple. I had to use my meditation techniques to calm myself down, or I really would have done it.
Finally, the moment I have been waiting for. I looked at the body of the dead football player that was lying on my floor and smiled. It had been an obstacle course from hell, but I made it. I had someone with a very twisted sense of humor looking down on me, and making sure I was okay. A confirmation that what I as doing was what I was meant to do. I had faced the gauntlet, and passed. A rite of passage I am sure all of those who have gone before me have had to endure. I had officially joined the ranks.
I went to the bathroom and took a shower. The hot water felt wonderful. The symbolism didn’t escape me either. My birth had come from the death of another human being. My body purified through the ritual of bathing, the act of cleansing my skin. Innocent blood had been spilled as a sacrifice to whatever source in the universe had protected me this night.
After my shower, I made a roast beef sandwich, had a beer and watched TV. There was nothing on, so I watched an old episode of Forensic Files I had DVR’d. I love irony.
Every once in a while I would look over at my new friend and smile. I must admit, of all seven sins my current choice was pride.
After my meal, I washed up and then went to my closet to pick out the appropriate outfit to wear for the big event. I decided on an old pair of black martial arts pants I had lying around, and a football jersey I had won at a White Elephant party. The number on the jersey was double zero. I looked totally ridiculous. Seeing as how I was about to dismember a human body, who cares how I looked?
I was finally ready to get my friend to the tub. I picked him up from where he lay in the living room, and dragged him towards his final destination. I placed him in the tub and couldn’t decide where to start. I went back out to the van to get my kit, and when I returned I decided to try a drywall saw to finish cutting off his head.
I was surprised by just how much blood there was. I had anticipated there being blood, of course, but certainly not this much. I had let him bleed out, but there was still a lot of blood. I will have to log that away for next time.
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. I had to work and work and work with that damn saw before there was a strange sort of “pop”, and then his head hit the floor. I wiped my forehead with my arm. I was working so hard I had begun to sweat. I think my problem was the choice of saw. Next time I’ll use something cleaner.
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.
Once I had his head off, I was suddenly able to relax. Looking into those dead peaceful eyes calmed me right down. I knew at that moment what I wanted for my trophy. I wanted his cervical vertebra; Just one single vertebra off of the base of his skull. I could boil it, bleach it, and keep it somewhere no cadaver dog would ever find it. There would also be no DNA for any crime lab to figure out just whose spine it had come from. I could be some freaky vertebra thief, taking one cervical vertebra from classroom skeletons all around the county. I could be the wily vertebra thief.
Cutting his head off the way I did was incredibly distasteful to me. I know that may sound silly, but I want no part of brutality. I wanted theater, opera, and artwork. I looked through my kit and found an Exacto knife. Just to make sure it was sharp enough to make clean cuts, I sliced one of my own fingers. It slipped through my skin like a warm knife through butter. I went to the sink to wash my finger and wrap it in a bandage, trying not to think about the fact that I didn’t have to cut my finger to see how sharp the knife was. I had a dead body right in front of me.
I proceeded as I believed a coroner would. I made the Y cut, and was again surprised to find just how difficult it was to get through the breast plate. I was going to need different tools. Perhaps I could make my own set of tools to accomplish what it was I wanted from these kills. But, that was it; what did I want from these kills?
I sat back against the wall looking at the dead body in my tub, completely stumped as to what I should do next. I looked at his head on the floor, and figured I might as well go ahead and get my trophy. Once I cut through all the sinewy crap that holds the vertebra together, I looked at my trophy with the pleasure of someone who finds a golden coin with a metal detector. It was so cool. And, I was able to come up with a trophy that was original. I didn’t have to copycat from someone else. I would have to look on eBay for something cool to store them in; maybe a treasure chest of some sort.