I got to be blonde that day. A wall of red tinted mirrors pulled my attention to my reflection. I looked so... girlish.
Benji had a moustache and he wore a ball cap that made his hair look mundane and short. He looked very plain. For the first time since I'd met him, I didn't notice one head turn to take in his beauty. I had no idea that something so resplendent could be masked.
I sat with the hotels manual over my lap. Dining. Entertainment. Room service. The lobby was decorated with large, fern trees. It provided the perfect sanctuary for me to peer through the leaves at Benji.
He stood in line behind a man with a buzz cut, navy blue blazer and a dress shirt, mid-thirties. His hair was suffering an early thinning in the back. I could hear the man’s low voice talking to the girl at the front desk but I couldn't make out what he was saying. Benji scribbled on a piece of paper behind him.
Sunday brunch buffet, casino a five minute walk from the hotel.
When I looked up again, Benji was at the front desk and the man was in the elevator. I couldn't hear Benji but I knew his spiel.
He would say, "How far in advance should I book three rooms here?"
No matter what she said, he wouldn't book the rooms. There wouldn't be enough time.
I saw him slap the counter lightly and nod his head as he thanked her. Then Benji went right to the phone booth. A brief and false call later and Benji left the building.
As I made my way to the booth, I made a mental note of the hands on the clock. It was nearing three in the afternoon. The clerk looked at the clock too. The plastic receiver still felt warm in my palm from Benji's touch and I slid a quarter into the slot.
A vexing female voice came from the other end of the phone following an odd melody of beeping noises.
"The number you have reached is not in service."
I lifted the phone with the receiver to my ear and turned to the F section of the yellow pages. I picked up the small sheet of paper Benji left me.
Room 415. Lavallee Shift change soon.
At ten to three, the clerk put her coat on. At five to three a boy wearing a suit went behind the desk and conversed with the clerk. At three o'clock, the female clerk left.
I pushed the curly ends of my golden hair behind my ears and nudged my glasses further up my nose as I entered the elevator. Benji's body shrunk below me as he re-entered the lobby without the moustache and dressed completely different.
The bell rang, the door opened and I exited out onto the fourth floor.
Triangles of brown and orange where outlined with a bubbly rim of cobalt blue on the carpet in the hallway. It was hideous. It was something I may have chosen for the lining of a coffin to lay down the person I hated the most. And that person I didn't know yet.
The walls looked like they were once white but had been splattered with purple by a five-year-old designer with a large paintbrush. Along the long corridor were rectangular light fixtures adhered to the wallpaper, providing a dim glow that made the ends of my wig look yellow.
The doors had tiny peepholes in the middle of their glossy, lancewood finish.
I must have stepped on a wad of gum because the heel of my stiletto was digging into the horrid carpet.
I wasn't nervous. I was anxious. The difference is major.
I knocked on the thick door.
"Who is it?" I heard a low voice call from inside the room.
"My name's Lily. Is this Mr. Lavallee's room?"
The door opened and the man in the flannel shirt stood before me, his eyes wide and his palm against the door frame.
"This is,” he said. “How can I help you?"
I took my glasses off and caught a glint at the corner of my eye where his hand rested on the door. A ring. He was married.
"Is your wife here?" I asked.
He opened the door wider.
I smiled and looked behind him at the unused bed and the stack of business papers lying across the desk. Away on business can be such a stressful and lonely time in a man’s life.
"Can I come in?" I asked, channelling my sultry voice.
"Sure," he said.
He motioned me in and the door shut behind me.
"How do you know my name?" he asked.
"Your friend told me," I said.
I sat on the desk over a stack of paper.
"My friend? Who?"
I leaned back with one hand on a sheet of paper and with the other I unzipped the front of my leather jacket so that my bra was showing.
"Paul!” He shouted.
He smiled and began taking his socks off.
“I told him not to do this. How much did he give you?"
"Like, how much is lots?"
"Like enough for my friend to join," I smiled.
The timing was beautiful. With each kill, our schemes seemed to become smoother and more professional. The man’s head swivelled to the door when he heard the small rap on the wood and he shot to his feet instantly like a baited doe to a hunter.
He opened the door and in an instant his head flew back with a gush of blood spitting from his nose like a recently feasted mosquito slapped dead.
Benji's boot came down over his chest and I heard the door shut and lock.
He was unconscious. His lip was split and bleeding. The brown carpet thirstily gulped his blood and held it in its fibres.
I heard a rib crack as I kicked his side with my gum-covered heel and he choked under Benji's leather glove. He was awake.
Benji held him down as I straddled Mr. Lavallee's body, the nylon over my knees scrunching into tiny accordions as they pushed against the rug. Buttons flew to the walls as I ripped his shirt open. Benji lifted his hand from the man’s mouth, holding his head up by his hair. I shoved as much of the blouse that I could manage down his throat.
Benji wrapped hockey tape around his mouth so tightly that Mr. Lavallee’s face was now in the shape of an hourglass. With the blade of my knife I cut down the middle of his undershirt. His eyes closed tight and a gust of muted air escaped from his nose. With the tip of my knife I drew a line into his torso from the cracked rib that jutted out of his skin down to his hipbone.
“Hey,” Benji said. “What are you—“
"Are all men the same?" I asked the stifled man below me. "You couldn't just love and honour one woman? Your wife? The one you vowed to cherish forever before your God?"
Benji had slumped back on his heels and was staring at me.
“Nothing says love like a brand new disease you got from a hooker," I said.
Benji shook his head and laughed. I didn't join him. I didn't find it funny.
I realized that I would’ve laughed at this before. It was one of the things that made us such a good, taunting duo. Comments like this made the event more fun, more tormenting to the victims who deserved it. But I couldn't laugh at it. Every time I looked at Benji I caught a glimpse of the man he’d become the night before in Hailey's—the man that gave his love to someone else. And then I realized that as much as I was taunting Mr. Lavallee, my statement was directed toward Benji.
Blackness began to creep into my vision. I looked from Benji, to the man beneath me and back to Benji.
"You're a pig," I said to both of them, looking down at my victim.
I plunged the knife into the man’s heart and ripped it out in one swift motion.
It wasn't meant to be that way. It was artless. It was without emotion, without fulfillment. It was out of jealousy and hatred that that man died. It was out of loneliness and the loss of hope and the tearing of my black heart that ended his life so abruptly and pointlessly.
And Benji was furious with me.
So they'll still talk about me when I die
Entry July 20, 2002
It seems like an evil master has stepped in to push me aside. She's become a monster. She no longer paints. She only kills.
I can't bear to watch her. I feel a lump rise in my throat when she morphs into this ruthless psychopath driven by rage. I want to mourn for the loss of my partner, my creature, my Beth.
I imagine it like being in a cave with tunnels in every direction and only one of them leads out. The others throw you into snake pits and quicksand.
Had I taken the wrong tunnel? Had her beauty and her fervent, black and wonderful soul fed me to the snakes? Or had I wronged her? Hadn't I taught her well?
I find myself flooded with unanswerable questions day by day and by night I worry that she is off on another senseless kill and has gone completely mad.
I can't tell you why I worry so much. I can't tell you what has changed her direction. And I can't predict what will happen next.
I await the day that my beautiful Beth comes back to me.