I’m not one of those crazy women who write erotic love letters to Charlie Manson. I had no idea Tommy was anything other than a good guy when we met. He kept jumper cables in his trunk to help random people whose vehicles stalled and he had dinner at his parent’s house every Sunday night. He treated me with respect, never hit me, and he didn’t even like to be that rough in bed.
We met we were 19 at a bar a town over from the one I grew up in. He was a friend of a friend and had a gigantic smile and smelled like Stetson and spun me around and hugged me and I knew right away we were going to fall for each other. We moved in together after a few months and even years after that we almost never fought. We felt like a team. We moved in tandem, always looking out for the other person’s back. We never had a power struggle like a lot of couples I know. Being with Tommy came naturally. It was just fun.
Then one day the police came.
I was upstairs in the bath and I heard a commotion. By the time I got a robe on and went down the stairs there were half a dozen people in the house and Tommy was in the back of a squad car. Someone showed me a warrant and told me I had to get dressed and leave so they could search the house. A female officer came with me while I put on the first outfit I saw. I wanted to go to the station but they said he wouldn’t be able to talk to me at least until tomorrow, so I Googled the number of a lawyer and sent her there instead.
The police wanted to talk to me too. They asked me to bring a calendar if I kept one. I had to go through my email and try to figure out what I had been doing on a bunch of different days. I work from home so it’s not like I usually have an alibi. I was in shock. I was crying a lot. I just said that I work from home and watch Days of our Lives and I could probably tell them what happened on any particular day if they wanted to know. They seemed to understand. One of them dropped a box of tissues on the desk and left me alone for awhile.
Tommy was a truck driver. One of those big eighteen wheelers. He’d go back and forth on I-24 like Sisyphus. The end of one trip was the beginning of another, it was one endless loop but that’s how he provided for us. I had a job but he made the big money and we were squirreling most of it away for the future. We both wanted a lot of kids and a big house in town. And a wedding, but we were too superstitious to plan much of it before we had the money saved.
None of the victims had any money, so that wasn’t a motive. They were just sex workers. They almost didn’t even catch Tommy because pretty much no one notices when those type of people go missing. Transients. They go to hitch a ride and then they end up in a dumpster and no one knows if they’re in trouble or if they just moved on to the next town. They go up and down I-24 just like Tommy. Only people would know if Tommy went missing, he’s a family man, always home on Sundays for dinner.
Tommy’s problem was that there were just so many bodies. It got too difficult to ignore. And then one of the girls, she wasn’t a sex worker, she had a real family and they raised hell when she went missing. They hired a private detective when the police wouldn’t do enough and after they pulled that body out of the dumpster it was national news. I wonder what they would have thought if they knew the reason their little angel was dead is because she was playing prostitute for fun. I guess it doesn’t matter, once you come from money everything is a headline. People probably would have liked that. They would have said “I always wondered what it would be like, I fantasized about it too. She was stronger than me. So adventurous.”
People like to read about Tommy. They want to know what made a good boy turn bad. They say he had a thing for making women scared. Like, he got off on it. They say police found semen on all the bodies. They had a picture of him at church with his parents and then they had a picture of one of the dumpsters. They couldn’t get enough. They all wanted to talk to me. They wanted more pictures of him, more details. Maybe something he said once. One pushy journalist hinted there’d be a five figure sum of money available to me if I’d give an interview where I said we had once hired a girl to have a threesome with us.
There were 48 in all. All sex workers, found up and down I-24 along his route. All strangled.
I wouldn’t believe Tommy was the I-24 killer if you told me, but there’s a lot of evidence and evidence speaks for itself. They found a lot of the women’s jewelry in our house. Lockets and bracelets and rings that cost some trailer park boy a few hours work at Walmart. People who knew the victims could place it all, though god knows why they bothered to remember anything about those girls. They found knives they tested for blood and extra rope like the kind that made the garrotes they found with the bodies. They found a baggy of crushed up Benedryl they think he put in their drinks. As if he needed to. Those girls would do anything. They were hungry, hungry, hungry. If you smiled and were kind to them, they’d believe anything else you told them. They’d do anything you told them.
None of his victims ever got away. That’s how you know he was really good. He didn’t leave any witnesses. It was all very clean.
But someone called in a convincing tip and then they found all the evidence in our house. Now he’s famous. Now I’m famous. They’re gonna put a needle in his arm and he’s gonna keep saying he’s innocent. That he’s a god-fearing man.
He was surprised that I left him and I felt sad to do it but the optics just weren’t right. We don’t live in a stand by your man kind of world anymore. The public just wouldn’t have anything to do with me as a weak woman who was too dumb to know she was shacking up with a serial killer. I left him and I told the papers and the cameras that I wanted to stand up for women. I wouldn’t be with a man like that, if I’d have know he was a man like that. I was tricked the way so many women are.
Of course he also doesn’t know about the time I followed him down I-24 — the time I saw him with that working girl. He doesn’t know that’s why I insisted on traveling with him so often. I told him it was a fun secret, that it made the sex good because we were in so many strange places. Of course he’d doze off and I’d get bored. He always slept like a log. One time after he fell asleep a girl had the nerve to come to the room. She’d seen his truck and thought he’d want some company, it can get so lonely on the road you know. I taught her what happens to girls who make men cheat. And then I thought I might as well teach Tommy what happens to men who cheat, too. And then it just became this whole big thing. For the first time in a long time I could see a future that was brighter than Tommy and what his job could get us. I could see something bigger than this town and this state. I realized I could be bigger than all that.
I’ve been talking to a lot of media. I’m going to go on some TV shows, I even got them to pay for someone to help me find some flattering clothes and another lady to come and do my hair and makeup beforehand. This is all just so glamorous. I’m thinking about moving to LA.
My boyfriend is one of America’s most prolific serial killers. Do you know anyone who might want to interview me? I’m on the lookout for a screenwriter, too. I wish Drew Barrymore were 10 years younger so she could play me. I just don’t think it’s that believable with the age difference. Maybe Billie Lourd. I always liked her.
After the media dies down I’m sure my book will be ready and then I’ll go on a book tour and then hopefully the movie script will be done. I really do hope we can get Billie Lourd. Maybe Bill Skarsgård can play Tommy. Just imagine the attention the press would give that. Maybe we can turn this all into a franchise somehow.