Let’s start with the basics. Where did you meet [NAME REDACTED]?
We met at a bar — but it wasn’t like that. Neither of us were even drinking. We were there for this miniature comic book convention. There were signings by local artists. Free pizza. I cosplayed as Tulip, you know, from Preacher? And he was dressed as Jesse – the actual preacher in the books – so we obviously started talking.
At first it was just small talk about the comics. The show. The cast. And then he mentioned that him and his brother worked at a restaurant over by Saint James and that’s where I got my bachelors, so we were talking about school for a while. It was nice… He was nice.
Were there any red flags early on?
Yeah, I feel like a fucking idiot looking back, but at the time… How the hell could I have guessed what was going on?
Anyway, I kept complaining about how I never met his brother. Was he serious about me? Was he stringing me along? Why had he met my family but I hadn’t met a single member of his?
He said his brother was too busy to meet up, but he would introduce me to his grandfather. He told me stories about how close they were. About how they used to go out shooting together in the woods behind his old house and then they would go into his grandfather’s shed and practice taxidermy.
You know, the first time I slept over his place, I almost had a heart attack with all the stuffed birds on the wall and squirrels and in these clear glass cases. I joked that he reminded me of Norman Bates.
I was such a fucking idiot…
So yeah, when he finally introduced me to his grandfather, the guy was sitting in a wheelchair. Arms covered in sleeves, hands covered in gloves, face covered in sunglasses and a droopy hat. I could barely see him, except for a bit of white flesh on his chin.
The stench was heavy, thick. I remember coughing a few times, but I didn’t want to say anything. I assumed it was just old people smell. Vomit and piss and old age.
I kept trying to talk to him, ask him about the animals, but my boyfriend said the old man was having a rough day, that sometimes he gets quiet and stiff. Then he wheeled him in the other room for a nap.
At the time, I had no idea the guy was dead. That my boyfriend kept him around for fun.
How did you find out the truth about the situation?
He was really touchy about his phone. Whenever he went to the bathroom, he would bring it with him. Whenever it beeped, he would tilt the screen away from me as he typed. I thought he was cheating.
I could tell something was up, so whenever he went to the bathroom, I flipped through his messages to look for evidence. I did that at least six times before I found anything, because I kept going through his text threads and emails. I even checked his Snapchat, just to see who he was snapping the most.
And then one day he showered while I was visiting, so I had more time to snoop. I looked through his music, his contacts, his photos. And there were at least ten pictures of dead women with a few men mixed in.
But it alternated. In between each picture of a body, there was a shot of a meal. Brown and red meat.
Some of those photos were only of the full plates, like the kind foodies post on Instagram. But in other ones, he appeared – him and this other man I never met before – holding forks and slurping and smiling together.
I still didn’t piece it together at that point. I had no idea he ate them. Honestly, I didn’t even think he killed them. I just thought he was into torture porn. That he found those pictures on Reddit or something and then saved them to masturbate to at night.
Did you confront him about it?
Uhh no, I don’t have a death wish. I got the hell out of there. Tried to, at least. He ended up finishing his shower right as I was grabbing my bag.
I don’t know how he knew. I must have looked at him different. Breathed a little too hard or flinched when he tried to kiss me. But he could tell I uncovered his secret.
He grabbed me by the back of the hair, just like he used to do during sex but rougher, meaner. Bashed my head against the wall. Actually no, it was a window. The windowsill.
It must have cracked my skin open, because I thought I was tasting tears, but when I wiped at my mouth, it turned out to be blood.
Anyway, I kept screaming at him to stop. Told him that I’d keep my mouth shut and wouldn’t contact the police as long as he let me go. But he didn’t.
My eyesight kept flickering as he dragged me to a room I’d never been in before – he had these two doors that always had padlocks on them. I noticed them the first time I stayed the night at his place, but I thought they were closets, maybe extra bathrooms. He told me he locked them to keep the cats from jumping on the handles, which is the shittiest lie, but I bought it.
When he finally unlocked the door, the only thing inside was a cum stained mattress and chains bolted to the wall. He forced me into them. My ankles. My wrists.
But he said that I wouldn’t be there for long. He had a special room he’d bring me to later. A fancier one. He promised that I’d feel better there.
And then I guess I passed out from the blood loss. Or maybe he stuck a needle in me. I thought I felt a pinch at one point, but I really don’t know. I was kind of freaking the fuck out.
How did you escape?
Umm. That part’s a little fuzzy. I remember waking up here. I remember you explaining everything that happened. Telling me that I was dating a goddamn cannibal. That he was planning on either cutting me up into pieces or preserving me like he did to his grandfather.
And then I remember you turning on the tape recorder for this interview.
Do you feel like you’re safe?
Do you remember how you got here? Do you even know where you are?
Yeah, I mean… No, but I…
(She looks around. Glances at the white walls. The steel desk. The mirror behind her. A perfect recreation of a police interrogation room.)
You’re the man in the pictures. The man that was eating with him.
Are you his brother?
Am I still in the house? Is this the other room?
What are you going to do to me? What did you…
Get the fuck away. Fuck off.
Please, I can’t–