I absolutely hate my job, but at the time getting out of the house was the only thing keeping me going. Last year, my options were either retire and spend my days being harangued and harassed by my insufferable wife or endure another year of tedium and boredom at the admissions office at the university. Though both were terrible propositions, I chose to stick it out in the office another year.
That day, I had poured over my 10th application, and I was about ready to put a bullet through my head. You have no idea how aggravating it is looking at application after application, in particular, the god-awful essays.
None of them have any heart. They are wholly unoriginal exercises in banality, lacking any true and discernible voice. It’s as if they’re written by committee and grinded down to nothing by the fiftieth edit they have no doubt received.
The sentiments within are either insincere or nauseatingly optimistic. The entire enterprise makes me want to vomit.
I was beginning to debate leaving work early. I ultimately decided to stay, wanting to avoid Meredith’s criticism when I stepped through the door so early from work. I could already hear her shrill voice chastising me for being lazy.
God, I hate that woman.
I picked up the next application on the never ending pile and began to read. Something gave me pause. My eyes grew wide. I couldn’t believe what lay before me. It was poetic, magnificent, unfiltered, singular, and most of all sincere.
This essay simply entitled “Admissions” was so unbelievably raw and honest.
At first, I thought the young man was confused (you would be surprised by the heights of stupidity I have seen in my many years in that office). That he had mistaken “Admissions Essay” as a space to write a testimonial. However, through the style and substance contained within, it became abundantly clear that this play on words was wholly intentional.
As soon as I finished, I read it again. I was absolutely blown away once more by what was on the page. It read like a poem. The diction perfect and flowing as he recounted the various things he was admitting. On top of all of this, it had an electrifying air of mystery to it. Especially, the last paragraph.
In whatever capacity I’m given license to push forward, these words emanate from my soul. I’m an apologetic sinner under the luminescent midday sun. Yet the stark, naked midnight hour still speaks to me. It whispers truths as well as fallacies. Pretentions and half–formed thoughts begin to coalesce about… IT. In the orisons springing forth from my inner reaches, I call out for a reprieve, a momentary rest from the guilt. I am given no such abatement. In fact, these notions are only protracted. They mingle within and destroy without. The thing that will haunt me in this life and into the next faces me once again. Exsanguinating the respite my soul requires, yet in the same token providing the sustenance my being craves. I would swear to both Heaven above and Hell below I’ll never do IT again, but who can predict the future?
Who can predict the future?
I tried to continue my work, but I couldn’t tear myself from Samuel’s enigmatic application. I checked his grades. They were decent, just enough for me to give my stamp of approval. I didn’t recognize the school he had attended, but I saw that he hailed from my hometown of Rashosha, WI. It was refreshing to see such creativity blossoming in that shithole. I set up the interview.
The rest of the day I was consumed with the unrelenting mystery of the essay. What could he have been referring to in that last paragraph? I went home that night and debated whether or not to share it with my wife and impart how it had galvanized me. But when I entered the door and was greeted by Meredith’s scowl and harsh words, I ultimately decided to keep this little bit of jubilation to myself.
The day of the interview I was nervous. The following weeks had been good in spite of Meredith’s overbearing presence at home. Meeting Samuel and picking his brain had given my life purpose. It had been an extremely long time since I had a compelling reason to get off the couch in the morning (Meredith had long since kicked me out of the master bedroom for some ludicrous reason I can’t recall). I had to know what he was being so cryptic about. Maybe he hadn’t done anything that reprehensible at all and had just written the words for dramatic effect. Either way, hopefully, I would find out that morning.
Samuel entered my office. He was not at all how I envisioned him. He was overweight and astonishingly unattractive. As they walk in, most student’s air of unease is palpable. However, Samuel didn’t seem nervous in the least. In fact, Samuel’s affect was alarmingly flat. (I would make note later that he did not crack a single smile or frown the entire interview.) He stared at me blankly. I offered my hand. He stared at it for a few seconds then grasped it weakly.
My optimism deflated. I had expected to be greeted by a passionate youth but what lay before me was an empty husk of a human being, lifeless and indifferent. His answers to my questions were abrupt. As the interview continued, I noticed that the boy didn’t seem to blink. During the entire process, he studied me intently with those unblinking eyes.
Finally, I decided to ask the question I had been waiting weeks to inquire.
“In your essay, which I might add I enjoyed immensely, you mentioned in the last line that you ‘would swear to both Heaven above and Hell below I’ll never do IT again, but who can predict the future? Who can predict the future?’ I am just curious what that is in reference to if you don’t mind my asking?”
“I murdered my Grandmother.” Not a hint of emotion lied anywhere in that statement.
“One night, I stabbed her 37 times in the head.”
He continued to stare at me with his unwavering gaze. I was speechless. This conversation had taken a decidedly dark turn that I was in no way prepared for. A lump formed in my throat. Was this some sort of joke? Was his deadpan demeanor meant to be some sort of ill advised prank? In any case, I desperately wanted to steer the conversation somewhere else. I was beginning to feel very creeped out.
“Uh… it says here you attended Winterly High School. I have never h-heard of it before. Can you tell me a little about it?”
“Winterly is the High School in the Rashosha mental hospital. I was put there after they found me covered in my Grandmother’s blood. I lived there until my release. They pumped me full of drugs. I absolutely hated it.” Rage began to build in his voice. “I’m never ever going back there.”
His cold, lifeless eyes continued to regard me, unblinking and dead. At this point I was done. I concluded the interview there and sent him on his way. When he finally left, I took his application and placed it firmly into the rejected pile. I caught my breath and looked out the window. Samuel stood down the block intently staring at me once again. I shut the curtains and fell into my chair.
When I got home that night, I Googled Samuel.
He hadn’t been lying.
At the age of 14, he had murdered his Grandmother by taking a butcher knife to her head 37 times. The responding officer said that he vomited when he found her. That her head didn’t even look human, it was just a grotesque mass of tissue.
Samuel had been declared not guilty by reason of insanity. There was some protest in Rashosha upon his release, but his doctors said that as long as he was on his medication he was not a danger to himself or others.
The most disturbing part of my research was his motive for doing this. He slaughtered her, because she refused to give him a ride to the store. (This came from his brother as Samuel claimed he couldn’t recall his actions, he was “possessed” at the time). If he was willing to slaughter his Grandmother over something so trivial, what would he do to an admissions officer that rejected his application.
What if he came after me?
Lost in thought, the shouting made me jump out of my chair. It took me a second to recognize Meredith’s screeching voice telling me to turn off the damn TV. She threw the remote at me nearly hitting me in the head.
This act of violence didn’t derail my train of thought. I mulled over how to proceed that night. In the morning I sprang into action. I informed the campus security to keep an eye out for the boy. Most importantly of all, I told Meredith about the situation. She was livid. She, of course, called our only son and screamed about how his loser father was going to get her killed.
A few months passed without incident.
Then the calls began.
While I was at work, Meredith received calls at home from a blocked number. At first, she could hear panting followed by a dial tone. The threats followed shortly after.
I lodged a formal complaint and turned over the essay as supporting evidence. Though they ultimately discovered the calls originated from a payphone near campus, as expected, the police didn’t do anything.
Then one morning I awoke to Meredith’s screams. They were coming from the front of the house. A butcher knife had been planted into the door frame sometime in the night.
We filed a restraining order against him. The calls continued. The voice shouting that the restraining order was the last straw. The last call Meredith received disturbed her to the core. The voice stated,
“What I did to my Grandmother was nothing. Your head is going to look like a fucking squashed tomato when I’m done with you! You fucking hear me!” She had no shame, the fucking bitch, in informing him that it’s me he wants to kill and not her.
She wanted to leave immediately. After much cajoling, I convinced her to stay one more night, and we would leave first thing the next day.
The next morning the police were called and the missing person report was filed. Meredith was nowhere to be found. In her place was a thick and crimson stain on the sheets of our formerly shared bed.
I told the detective about the ongoing saga with Samuel. Certainly, if they searched his apartment they would find the murder weapon.
Samuel was arrested later that day after they found the bloody butcher knife in his garbage bin.
Samuel sat in the courtroom the day of the verdict with the same unblinking and dead eyes I had seen the day of the interview. He had taken the stand in his defense, but this was a gross miscalculation by his state appointed attorney. His ugly and blank face coupled with his complete lack of emotion was the nail in the coffin. Even with the lack of a body the prosecution made a compelling and damning case that this monster had murdered once again.
As the verdict came back guilty, my son hugged me and sobbed. A smile cracked across my lips as I buried my face into his arms.
I had gotten away with it.
This isn’t an admission of remorse. For I don’t feel the least bit guilty about what I did.
Well, I guess that isn’t 100% true. Sometimes I feel a little bad about Samuel, but the opportunity he presented was too perfect to pass up.
As I stand at the spot in the woods where I buried Meredith while literally pissing on her grave, I remember the question that ended Samuel’s essay, the piece of paper that was the catalyst for my new lease on life.
Who can predict the future?
While Meredith lays below me, I think back to our wedding day. I remember the words I spoke in earnest at the altar. I would love, cherish, and protect her as long as we both shall live.
I recall the birth of our son. That beautiful morning I felt a love so penetrating and deep for both of them my heart literally ached. I looked into her tear-stained, blue eyes, as I held him in my arms, and cried tears of joy, love, and devotion…
Who can predict the future indeed?