“The first time was simple revenge,” Christa began and she longed for the days when everyone smoked everywhere, even though she had never been a part of that era, “very much like you walked into when you discovered your wife in bed with another man. It’s interesting that you decided to allow your rage to build, to let the trap already closed be discovered so accidently. At that point it was more than just wanting to punish her or hurt him, Larry, at that point you began to peer into the darkness of torture. How did it feel when you realized he was awake? He could smell the cigarette and then he saw it in the dark. He had to know it was you, he had to know he was caught, but what could he do about it? You liked the idea of the squirming of his guts, the alcohol fleeing his mind, and the eventual decision to wake his lover, your wife, and then his fate would be decided by you. That was a lot like it was for me the first time I killed. There’s always that moment of discovery that the hook has already been set, that the poison has been administered, that the fall has already begun, and that very moment is the one I have learned that I enjoy the very most. You went looking for that moment, Larry, and you found it, too.
The first time I killed was as a child. My father died of natural causes, no matter what the press might say, if alcohol is to be considered a naturally occurring substance. My mother looked for drinking buddies, not lovers or partners, and when men drink alcohol it dissolves the bonds of civilization that are created to protect the weak from the strong. My stepfather, John Wilson, would play drinking games with my mother and her friends and he made sure she drank a lot more than she could handle. After the party was over and she was far past the point of consciousness, he would splay her out on the kitchen table and take her in front of me. I was thirteen, almost fourteen, barely old enough to understand what was happening, but I knew that he meant to do those things to me. My mother, even when she was sober, was an invertebrate.
I discovered early that desire for something denied creates a vigor inside of men that blinds them to all other things. When a man desires a woman it kindles passions that oppose one another; the desire to possess yet also the desire to destroy. My step father wanted me sexually but he wanted me to feel his power over me before he violated me, he wanted me to surrender to a lesser evil to avoid a greater evil and he wanted me to feel gratitude because his violation of my body was not as severe has it might have been, that I would be allowed, permitted, to earn some sort of reprieve from having to perform some act of humiliation and whatever he wanted would be given to him freely, by me, to him, when he commanded.
He liked to order drinks from me, made me learn how to make what he liked, punished me if they were not right, forced me to drink until I threw up of they were not as he liked, and one night I spilled a drink on him. He slapped me, hard, hard enough to send me spiraling across the room and he stood there, drenched, and then he looked at me as if the sight of who I was finally made its way through the alcohol. For it was nearly pure alcohol I had poured on him, that and gasoline mixed with it. I had landed near a chair where I had hidden a can of hairspray and as he took a step towards me I lit the spray with a butane lighter and set my stepfather ablaze.
Pain, Larry, erases all other thoughts. The need to escape pain is the cornerstone of training animals in the circus and women in the home. Yet when that pain is attached to you, burning your flesh, searing your body like cheap hamburger meat on a grill, there is little else in the brain but to flee. He ran from himself, as if the act of moving quickly could somehow be transmogrified into positive results but as he reached the bathroom he fell, rolled, and the fire went out. He passed out from the pain and when he awoke he discovered the bed from which he had delivered his torments onto and into my body was where his body now lay. The chains, the ropes, the home made manacles that he had fashioned for my young body were now securing him in the same position he had placed me in a dozen times and for the very same reasons. I found it an oddly sexual thing to see in his face the realization that the future held some very unusual forms of agony.
The wound wasn’t very large and it wasn’t that severe. But like all burns it was exceedingly tender and sensitive to the touch and to heat especially. I discovered he would writhe violently to escape hot grease poured onto the wound and there was very little he would not say to prevent me from administering this salve to him daily. Of course, he had bodily functions, just as a man would have had, and at first he saw in this some pathway to escape. Surely, he thought, I had no intentions of leaving him in his own filth. By the second day he realize that it was my intentions to do just that. By the end of the week I could see it in his face when I brought him water; he realized that I was keeping him alive only to see him die more slowly.
My mother drank her way through this. She had watched her husband take her daughter’s virginity while sitting in a chair not ten feet from the bed and now she drank and watched her daughter turn her husband into a creature that was a living host for infection. Once a day, usually in the morning, I would hold a knife to his throat and make him beg for death. I could video it and play it back to him, telling him his performance lacked conviction, which it didn’t, and all the while waiting for the timer in the kitchen to go off. When that time beeped the man would thrash as if he could already feel the liquid grease burning through the last wound. It wasn’t much really, no more than an ounce, perhaps, but burn on burn on burn, on burn, every day, drove the man to madness at the end. I recorded the sound of the timer and played it over and over again until the fear of pain pushed him into a state of insanity that only death could relieve. I unchained what was left of him and led him outside in the cold to die. He shivered and laughed and screamed as the night grew colder and colder, but eventually he crawled back into the house. My mother had drank herself to death by then and there was little else for me to do at fourteen but set the house on fire and begin my journey into the world of men who wanted to seduce and violate young women. I decided that if I was to be viewed as prey and if I was to be treated as prey, and if I was to have to live my life as prey then I would do so awaiting that time when I could trap, pounce, and I could kill. Just as young men decide they will be farmers or computer experts or soldiers or rapists, I decided to kill as I grew up, and to make sure those I killed felt the trap as it closed about them.”
Larry lay propped up on one elbow and wondered if the trap had closed on him. He could not speak. Christa lay next to him, nude, still sweating from exertion, and smiling as if she were recounting the first time she had ridden a bike or won a spelling bee.
“I love that look on your face, Larry, but you have to remember how close you were to me at one point. You forced her to hold the gun, you forced her to aim at her lover, and yes, you pulled back at the last moment, the very last second, but there, right before you did, you and I were bonded for life.”
Christa sat up and looked at the clock. “We have time, yes, one more time, Larry.” Christa lay back down again “Please” she whispered and Larry had never heard a voice more filled with death.