So they'll still talk about me when I die
Entry October 12, 2001
We'd had this idea for a while—playing with the elements, with irony and contradictions.
I wanted someone to suffer from the loss of air only to die from an enormous oxygen intake. I wanted to run someone over with their own car and make them drive themselves over a cliff. I wanted to starve someone for weeks and then stuff them full with food until they vomited.
It had come down to Ian. He was a middle-aged man we noticed eating a hamburger over a briefcase. He was sitting on a park bench in Parry Sound. His hair was thinning at the top. His glasses were thick and digging into the sides of his face. He was nervous and quiet and he had a batman sticker on the side of his case. Ian was a dorky kid who became dorkier in manhood.
We followed him throughout the day—to work, to lunch, back to work, and finally to his house. If he noticed that he was being followed, he didn't show it.
The infiltration process was simple. Beth knocked on his door and he opened it to a teary-eyed girl asking to use his telephone. He even invited her in with an arm around her shoulder.
I stood outside the doorway with my ear to the wood. I heard him offer her a glass of water. He left the room to fetch her one. Beth opened the door for me.
He spotted me instantly when he re-entered the room.
"Hey!" he shouted.
He lunged toward me, perhaps prepared to shove me or something. I’m not sure what the dork was thinking. That he’d become Superman in the face of peril?
Beth jumped onto his back and tied his arms down with hers. My baseball bat met his mouth and he collapsed to the floor.
The tub of ice was Beth's idea. We dragged him unconscious, stripped him and lowered him down gently into the water. He awakened immediately. I held him down as he writhed. Beth tied his arms and legs to the pipes.
I could see his eyes shaking as his body froze over and began to turn purple. He looked as though his entire body were engulfed in a giant bruise. Only his neck and his chest moved as his limbs fell paralyzed and he was hyperventilating.
For three hours, we kept him in the tub. For three hours, we sat on the bathroom tiles and talked like we did when we were at home. Over three hours, and the phone rang once with a solitary message occupying the space on the tape.
It was a woman. Her voice sounded sweet and old. It was his mother, the only person I considered worrying about. Mothers of dorks tend to pop on by with lasagnes.
"Hope you’re taking care of everything over there," her voice echoed. "Make sure everything is cleaned up for when I get home, Ian. I refuse to pick up your mess. See you in two days."
The phone beeped and the line went dead. And Ian had lost all hope.
His body was as heavy as a giant block of ice, which he had become. He almost pulled me into the tub with him without even trying as I lifted him out and to his feet. Beth wrapped a bathrobe around his shoulders.
I lit the logs in the fireplace and we sat him in front of it as he thawed. He literally melted like an icicle, a pool of ice water shedding off him and surrounding him on the hardwood floor. He sat there for an hour. He was beginning to shake and twitch. He was starting to be able to move.
That's when I pulled out the blowtorch. It was his. I found it while rummaging through the basement as Beth watched over him in the tub.
I wanted to make someone suffer an intense chill, to freeze them nearly to death, and then to torch them into a human bonfire. Thank you, Ian, for lending your body to me. Your death was one of the most rewarding. Yours will be one that is written in textbooks.
Ian only suffered the burns momentarily. In fact, most of it was post-mortem. The black, flaking skin and charred bones was more of a decoration for the body. I’d decided that he suffered enough and I broke his neck.
The bone wasn't cut off clean in this instance. But then again, the woman’s leg wasn't amputated at any joint. It was sliced in the middle of her right thigh.
The woman was a voluptuous beauty, a well-endowed version of me. She had brown hair bundled into a loose bun on top of her head with ringlets falling down to her chin in disarray. Her eyes were like mine and her lips were red, the bottom lip big and the top small. She could’ve looked like she was pouting if the look in her eyes weren't so fierce. She was like a tigress lying over a bed of wrinkled, silver silk.
The dress she wore was made of black lace and was lifted up on an angle above her bellybutton. The bottom of her breast was popping out from the fabric on that side.
Her skin was nicer than mine. It shone a tint of gold on her cheekbones. Her left hand was resting above her head, a wedding band over her ring finger. She touched the inner thigh of her still existent leg with the tip of her fragile fingers.
In the background, a man crouched in front of a blazing fireplace. He cradled her amputated leg in his arms. By his knees, a blood-tipped axe rested. His longish, brown hair wisped wildly to one side and a tear ran down from his bronze eye to the middle of his pale cheek. I wondered if he was supposed to resemble Benji. I never found out.
This was my favourite painting by Sam. I loved that the woman in it looked painless and full of bliss. I loved how her composure and her eyes held the notion that she'd just had the best sex of her life rather than suffered the severing of her leg. Most of all, I loved her bones.
Imagine a tough branch being snapped apart with a sharp break over a knee. Imagine how the ends would be jagged and some of the slivers would peel further than the others. This is what the tip of the amputated bone looked like.
The flesh on her leg was torn and looked like it would jiggle like gelatine. The skin had been ripped off higher than the bone stuck out. A large piece of, what looked like white wood, was protruding out of a bleeding stub of floppy skin. The silk bed sheet below her thigh was sodden in a crimson pool.
I loved the bones of her knuckles as her fingers curled over her head. I loved the bones of the knee that the man held close to his chest. But more than this, I loved the high definitive bones in her cheeks. Without those, she wouldn’t have looked like me. And I wanted to be her.
Every time I visited Sam's house I would stare at it, searching for a detail I may have missed—a freckle on her face or a single spark lifting to the air off of the orange and red flames. On most occasions, I did find something. Sam was very intricate with her work. Even the placement of every eyebrow hair was planned and precise. And this being so, there were small, veiled details everywhere.
But as many times as I stared at this picture, I'd never noticed what I saw that day. I'd realized shortly after that the additional detail I was staring at had been painted over post-completion.
In the flames of the fireplace, swarming in yellow and orange and red was the lick of my name, spiralling up into the smoke.
"I knew you liked this one," Sam said.
She pulled the painting off the black wall of her bedroom.
"Look under that flap," she said.
She pointed to a small cut in the brown paper frame at the back. I reached my fingers into the slit and clasped them around a cool, metal object. I pulled out a sleek slate of silver and I almost dropped it to the floor. In the slate was an etched inscription in an exquisite handwritten font.
"What's this?" I asked, staring at the metal in my hand.
"It's the plaque that's going over the frame," Sam said.
She smiled and took the slate from my hands.
I couldn't hide it, I was uncontrollably flattered and that much was evident in my voice. "That's awesome!” I said. “Thank you."
And I hugged her.
This was the first time I'd ever hugged a girl because I wanted to. I was genuinely fond of Sam in a way I'd never felt about any other person other than Benji. It was the most human I thought that I could ever be.
"You're welcome," she said.
She smiled and put the painting against a stack of others that were leaning up against the wall. I followed her as she placed it down and let my eyes travel back to the wall that once held the painting. Then I caught a glimpse of the other paintings in the stack.
"You're selling it?" I said.
I didn't try to mask the disappointment in my voice.
"Yeah," she said.
She flopped down on her black, leather chair with a tube of deep purple nail polish in her hand.
"At the auction on Monday night,” she added. “You should come."
"How much are you selling it for? I'll buy it right now."
Sam looked up at me with a confused look on her face.
"Please don't sell it," I pouted.
Her confused look was mingled with regret and I could see that she didn't want to say what came out of her mouth next.
"It's already been pre-evaluated,” she said. “The bids start at two grand."
She sighed and began twisting the cap of the nail polish off.
"I'm sorry," she said.
This sounded like more of a depressed realization than a question. I pouted as I ran my fingers over the protruding bubbles of paint that made up Bloody Beth, while repeating the price in my head. I remembered that Sam had freaked out over selling one of her paintings for five hundred dollars before. I realized how big of a deal this was to her to be selling something of her own for upwards of two thousand dollars. I suddenly felt proud.
"Well," I said, getting off my knees and wiping the frown from my face. "Two grand?"
I smiled and raised my hands to the air. Sam smiled back and I rushed over to hug her.
"Congratulations!" I said.
And I kissed her forehead.
Now, not only had I hugged another woman because I wanted to, but I'd kissed her as well, and this I also wanted to do.
I talked to Sam about Benji that night. I opened up to her completely and it turned out that she had a natural knack for putting pieces together. The way he looked at me, watched over me, protected me—she said that they were all signs pointing to affection. The hope that lingered inside of me widened, stretching almost to the inner edges of my body, ready to explode out.
I never told Benji this. I felt so open and free that night that I trusted Sam as if she were part of our inner circle. I felt like she already knew what we were, of what we did. I imagined that she would be a beautiful killer. And I almost told her everything. I had to leave before I bit right through my tongue.