Someone once told me we are made in the image of God. I didn’t know how to respond to that. I probably stuck out my tongue and made a childish noise. But if I’m honest, sometimes when I have my hand around the neck of a young woman, I think about it.
I’m a killer. More specifically, a strangler. I break into peoples’ homes and choke them until they are dead. You should know this at the beginning. If we’re going to be together for any length of time, we need to start off on the right foot, and that means full disclosure and complete honesty. There are already enough bankrupt relationships out there. Let’s not add to the ever-growing list.
Hold that thought. This is the house right here, the yellow one with the sign in the yard. Now, you need to know a couple of things in advance. One, I’m going inside, and two, the man sleeping on the couch with the TV blaring … I’m going to murder him. You can stay out here if you want. In fact, I’d recommend it. This isn’t a predictable craft. I’ll try to be quick, but you never know how these things will turn out.
But please, keep your voice down. Begging me won’t change anything. This course of action was set into motion long before you came into the picture. One thing you’ll find out about me: I do what I say I’m going to do. Los Angeles may be full of flakes, but I’m not one of them, so save your breath.
Why would anyone leave a window unlocked with a climbable tree below? People, they are so stupid. Have they never heard of crime? It’s not as if humans are kind. Good-hearted. Show them an open window and they’ll rob you blind.
It doesn’t matter. In a few minutes, it won’t make a difference anyway. At least he’ll have spent his final night sleeping peacefully, believing his home to be secure.
Careful, now. We’ll climb from the lattice to the tree then step onto the window ledge. I’ve done this so many times, it’s become second nature. I could do it blindfolded, if I wanted to.
All right, here we are. The point of no return. What did you decide?
Forgive my laughter. I wasn’t making fun of you. Yes, that’s fine. You can come inside and stay upstairs. I’ll let you know when it’s over.
This man will put up a fight, but it won’t mean much. He drank four beers (cheap beer) before falling asleep on the sofa. He’ll wake up, see me standing over him—
the intent on my face—and his brain will switch into survival mode. Unfortunately, his body won’t respond as well. He’ll scratch and claw as I take hold, but I wear thick sleeves for such occurrences.
Go ahead. Pity him, as you should. A man taken before his time has a right to be pitied. I almost pity him, the life he had to look forward to, the things he could have done, the people he could have helped. But would he have done so? Or would he have spent the next thirty years in a string of busted relationships? Four drinks turn into five, the world soon passes him by—and he never upgraded to a better beer.
Pity him that, not that his life was prematurely ended, but that it was going to end badly, regardless. Which brings me to my original question: what causes affection to grow cold? A flame that once burned brightly seems only a faint ember.
If you want my opinion, the greatest tragedy is not death. It’s growing complacent. Anyway, I’ll be back shortly.
Forgive the wait. The man put up more of a fight than I expected. He must have a higher tolerance for beer than most. I’ll have to throw away this shirt now. I think he broke the skin, too. Oh, well. Never mind.
As I said, I don’t expect you to like what I do, or to respect it. I hope you can come to like me, though. For if the man whose breath I took was made in the image of God then am I not made in the same image? I haven’t lied about my intentions. Haven’t given you false impressions. I’ve been honest from the start. Doesn’t that count for something?
With that said, here’s my invitation. Join me for a few days. Four, to be exact. It will be long and exhausting, but it will also be exciting and you may feel more alive than you’ve felt in a long time. After that, I will disappear. I’ll change my name and no one will ever hear from me again.
Will you join me? If so, let’s go. It’s been a long time since I’ve had company.