“If you’ll just be quiet for one second, I’ll tell you why you’re here.”
I left for my second job that night though every fiber of my being was screaming at me to stay home. However, money doesn’t grow on trees as my piece of shit ex-husband used to always say (this was perhaps the one thing he ever said with any truth to it) and the ever mounting bills were not going to pay themselves.
I said my usual spiel to the babysitter: put Matthew to bed by 9, feel free to eat anything in the fridge, and call me in case of an emergency. Without thinking, I added that, should the need arise, there was a gun in the drawer next to my bed. The look of shock on her young face almost made me regret informing her about the firearm, but with the Rashosha Slasher on the loose. My son’s safety took precedence over putting a little fright into Jessica.
I said my goodbyes, kissed Matthew on his adorable, little cheek, and made the drive to work. I was a concierge at the Regent Hotel on the outskirts of Rashosha, WI. Business was rather slow (who in their right mind would want to visit this shitty town?). So, I had plenty of time to contemplate my current station in life. I looked at the picture of Matthew taken the year prior at his 6th birthday party that I kept behind the desk. His beautiful face belied the circumstances he sprang forth from. The perfect innocence it exuded masked the emotional scars his abusive father inflicted deep into his soul. But that fucking asshole was in jail for the foreseeable future, and he had his doting mother to protect him now.
Matthew is the apple of my eye, my sole reason for living. I suffered through the boredom of that job and the back breaking labor of my other one all for him. We were building a bright future together in spite of the past, and good times were here to stay.
However, my optimism was tempered by worry. The Rashosha Slasher had been on the loose for going on a year now as the papers had informed me that morning. I knew that his victims had only been college-aged girls, but that’s what mothers do. We worry. Reading the descriptions of the bodies sure didn’t help things. Hearing about how their throats were slashed from ear to ear (one of which was slashed so deeply he decapitated her) filled me with fear for my little baby.
If anything were to happen to Matthew, I just don’t know what I’d do.
With an hour to go in my shift, the worry had festered. How stupid was I for leaving my son at home with Jessica? She was nearly college-aged. In addition to this, she was only 5’ 3” and maybe 90 lbs tops. If there was a break-in…
My mother’s intuition was telling me that something was wrong. I informed my boss I would be leaving early, hopped in my car, and sped home.
The length of the drive allowed me to gain my better senses. Matthew was fine and resting his sweet little head in his bed. I chastised myself for missing out on an hours pay because of my paranoia.
I pulled up to the driveway and all the irrational fear had already dissipated. I opened the door eager to kiss Matthew’s tiny forehead goodnight.
As I entered the kitchen, I stopped in my tracks. Something was amiss.
I had gently chided Jessica for leaving messes around the house. I know I can be a neurotic neat freak but that girl was such a slob. Dishes were everywhere. I looked on the floor and almost stepped into a puddle of ketchup. I moved to the living room expecting to see Jessica watching TV as she usually does around the time I come home. I saw her form lying on the couch seemingly asleep. I turned on the light.
Reading descriptions of what a throat looks like when it is slashed is nothing compared to seeing the real thing with your own two eyes. In movies they always make the wound look so neat. However, the wound across the flesh of Jessica’s neck wasn’t precise. It was jagged. A frown cut across her now deceased face. Those bubbly blue eyes brimming with such youth and promise remained open and lifeless.
I was petrified, absolutely transfixed.
The thundering footsteps began to ascend the adjacent basement stairs. Any second Jessica’s killer would find me alone and defenseless in the living room. I would meet the same fate as Jessica, and Matthew would grow up essentially an orphan.
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That thought was so odious that I sprang into action. I turned down the hallway and climbed the stairs to the second floor making note that the door to my son’s bedroom was closed. Praying that he was okay, I ran to my bedroom. As my footsteps pounded into the hardwood of the bedroom hallway, I could hear the footsteps of the killer quickening in pace. I swung my bedroom door open, slammed it shut, and made a beeline for the drawer. My Glock handgun felt cold in my hands. The steel felt foreign in my grasp. I pulled the slide back before I realized the gun was unloaded. I frantically reached into the drawer feeling around for the clip. As the door swung open behind me, I placed the clip into its home.
I hesitated for a split second. Something was off about this man. The room was dark, but I could still see his eyes. They were an incandescent green, but I couldn’t let the shock of this oddity halt my actions.
He closed in on me blood-soaked knife in hand, an insane smile creeping across his depraved face. I had one chance at this. I aimed for those shining emerald eyes and pulled the trigger. The report from the gun was deafening.
Another thing that the movies get wrong is the effect a bullet has when it enters a person. I expected to see him fly back with blood erupting profusely from the wound. Instead, the killer’s head snapped back only slightly as he crumbled to the ground like a sack of potatoes. I turned on the lights to see the famed Rashosha Slasher lying dead on the floor of my bedroom with only a trickle of blood exiting the wound in his forehead. He was just as the eyewitness reports had described him. The police sketch had been extraordinarily accurate. I stood over his corpse triumphant, but the victory was short lived. In my fear and terror for my own life, I had forgotten about Matthew.
As I slowly walked toward Matthew’s closed bedroom door, my thoughts became alive and manic. A veritable dialogue between two parts of my brain began.
“He’s dead in there, you know.”
“No, he isn’t.”
“The slasher got to him first and then killed Jessica. You’re a failure as a mother.”
“No, he only kills young girls.”
“Fair enough, but how come Matthew hasn’t come out of his room yet? Especially after hearing the gunshot.”
“That’s why he hasn’t come out. He’s horribly frightened. He needs his Mommy.”
“If you are so sure about that, why don’t you just open the door and comfort him?”
I stood outside the door with my hand on the doorknob with the full intention of swinging the door open and holding Matthew in my arms.
Something gave me pause. What if that voice in my head was correct? What if my baby was dead behind that door? If I opened the door and Matthew lay murdered on the other side, my life was over. I went down the stairs and sat in the kitchen contemplating my next move.
I looked at the clock, 3:00 AM. I had been lost in thought for the past three hours still unsure of what to do. The dialogue in my head grew increasingly aggressive.
“He hasn’t come out yet because he’s dead and you know it. You failed in protecting him from his father and now he’s dead because you failed him again.”
“Shut the fuck up! No, the things he must have seen and heard tonight have taken so much out of him that he’s… sleeping. Yes, sleeping.”
“Really? Sleeping? Why haven’t you called the police yet?”
“Because… all of that commotion. Matthew is already scared of police and the justice system because of what his father put him through. He is not going to be woken up by police sirens and lights as they proceed to poke and prod him again. As a matter of fact I’m not going to call the police at all tonight, Matthew will be up in a few hours. The last thing he needs to see are the bodies. I am going to drag them to the basement, wait for Matthew to go to school, and then inform the police about what happened.”
“That’s absolutely insane. Why don’t you just open the goddamn door and face the tr-”
“Shut the fuck up!”
I dragged Jessica’s body down first. It was easy enough. I did my best not to think about what I was doing. That the flesh I held in my hands was just four hours prior filled with hopes and dreams for the future. I placed her on the floor and gently covered her body with a blanket. I quietly made my way up the stairs not wanting to wake up Matthew. I entered my bedroom and began to drag the body of the killer. Or rather, attempt to. He was far too heavy. There was no way I was going to be able to move him alone. I decided to leave him there and covered him with a sheet. He would only be there overnight. After I dropped Matthew off at school, he would become the police’s problem.
I passed Matthew’s door on the way down the stairs. I envisioned his sweet little head resting soundly on the pillow. For a brief second, the image of his throat slashed to ribbons was interjected into my mind’s eye, but I quickly pushed that out of my head. I sat in the kitchen picturing Matthew’s sleeping face once more before I fell asleep.
I woke up and looked at the clock on the stove, 10:24 AM. Shit, I thought. Matthew is going to miss school. I looked at my phone and paid no mind to the dozens of missed calls and texts I had received. I turned on the stove and proceeded to make a breakfast for two.
“Why are you making breakfast for Matthew?”
“He’s going to come down those stairs any minute and be absolutely starving. What kind of mother would I be if I didn’t.”
“Why don’t you go upstairs and wake him then?”
“Because he’s still… sleeping. Yes, sleeping. If he needs to get some more rest that is fine by me. His breakfast will be waiting for him when he finally decides to get up.”
“No, you just don’t want to face the fact that he’s de-”
“Shut the fuck up!”
I sat at the kitchen table as the banter in my head continued. Noon became 1. 1 gave way to 2. The voices in my head were unrelenting, the two sides at an impasse threatening to drive me insane…
Suddenly, the doorbell rang. The initial shock caused me to jump out of my chair. I looked at the clock, 9:00 PM. I pretended I couldn’t hear it, but the noise persisted. I grew livid. Whoever, this was was going to wake up Matthew. I angrily opened the door to be greeted by Jessica’s father. He entered my home shouting, demanding to know where Jessica was. I told him to be quiet, that my son was sleeping, but he paid me no heed. He threatened to call the police if I did not tell him where his daughter was immediately. I begged and pleaded with him to keep his voice down.
I brought him up the stairs telling him once again to be quiet. He refused to listen. I informed him I needed to grab something from my bedroom. He continued to shout and carry on from outside the door. The gun would be too loud. I grabbed the killer’s knife, put it behind my back, and invited him in.
I plunged the knife into his chest. He began to scream as he fell to the ground. I whispered for him to shut up. My thoughts began to race. The voice of pessimism spoke up for the last time I would allow it in my lifetime.
“Now you’ve gone and done it. You’re going to jail for the rest of your life and for what reason? Matthew is de-.”
I pulled the knife out of his chest and brought it down on his head repeatedly. The voice of optimism no longer contained in my mind, but spewing forth from my lips said,
“He’s not dead! He’s alive! He’s alive! HE’S ALIVE!!!!!!!!!!!!”
“Well, that little scare happened eleven years ago. Matthew and I have lived a quiet life since then. Speaking of, I really wish you hadn’t rung the doorbell so loudly. Matthew needs his rest before graduation. I’m so very proud of my little baby! As you saw, I have hung his cap and gown outside his bedroom door. When he finally gets up, he will come out and put it on.”
“Didn’t you read the sign that says no solicitors? Why did you insist on talking so loudly while trying to sell me whatever you have in that briefcase? Maybe if you hadn’t been so noisy, you wouldn’t be bound to my bed right now. Let’s get one thing straight. This knife is going into your chest. If you scream, I’ll make it so much worse for you, because you’ll wake up Matthew, and he is… sleeping right now. Yes, sleeping.”