Friday, November 30, 2018

Am I also a Monster?




AM I ALSO A MONSTER?






After many years of abuse, a young man gets his revenge. First, he kills his father, whom he hates deeply, then he accidentally kills a thief, and a serial killer is born. His loving grandmother becomes an eager accomplice. To get rid of the bodies, he begins to feed the homeless, winos, and drug addicts that gather in a decrepit park across the street from his butcher shop.

Edmundo Barraza
Visalia, Ca. September 2012


I
GRANDMA


The prolonged mental abuse my dad inflicted on me created long-lasting scars on my mind. He never abused me physically. But the negative impact of his cruel comments contributed greatly to my insecure weak mind.

My dad was the first person I killed. I never reported him missing and I never filed a police report. I just said to anyone who asked that he had decided to retire to Mexico and that he was staying there indefinitely. But in reality, I made him disappear, yes, disappear is the right word.

My grandfather Genaro was born in Mexico in 1912 during the Mexican revolution. In the 1930s he immigrated to the United States. At first, he worked in the fields of Central California and after four years he saved enough money to buy a small grocery store which he later converted into a butcher shop. When my grandfather died my dad kept the shop and bought the house next door. 

We connected the butcher shop to the house by building a hallway between the two properties. So, our house was behind the butcher shop.

My occupation required being in constant contact with my customers. Butchers, like barbers and taxi drivers, are very communicative. They develop an extroverted personality that they adopt for the rest of their lives. In my case, after I closed the shop I became quiet even in my thoughts. 

My grandfather was a big man, he had dark brown skin and a heavy mustache. The hard work in the fields and later the heavy chores in the butcher shop made him strong as a bull. When he died he was eighty years old and he could still lift a quarter of a cow to a six-foot-high hook. Whenever he comes to my mind, he's wearing his apron. The only time I saw him wearing a suit, he was in a coffin.

My grandpa never learned how to speak English. My father did, but he never absorbed the American culture. He always felt he was a hundred percent Mexican. My grandpa never pushed dad to go further than high school. I had the choice to go to college, but I never consider it in a serious way. I always thought I was going to end up in charge of the family business. Some of my Mexican friends said my dad looked like Pancho Villa. His name was Ramon.

When my dad died, he left me the shop and the eleven houses that were around the shop. The entire block was ours. We lived in one of the houses and rented the rest. I guess we were rich, but I never felt or looked like a rich person. Maybe because we never learned how to spend our money.

My grandma was my only true friend. She was eighty years old. She had been in a wheelchair for the last few years. Her knees were bad and she lost her ability to speak when she slipped into the kitchen and hit her head on the countertop. Her name was Sandra.

Her head injury caused damage to the left side of her brain. She developed a rare speech disorder called aphasia. Within days she became mute. Partial recovery was possible, but that depended on the patient's age, health, and motivation. None of that was in grandma's favor. 

The doctor recommended treatment with a speech therapist, but she only attended a few sessions. She claimed the therapist didn't speak Spanish properly.

I bought her a wheelchair when the increasing pain in her knees prevented her from doing all the things she used to enjoy. The wheelchair remained unused for months until I stopped begging her to use it. Once she started using it, the pain in her knees went away. She never walked again, she seemed happier that way. She never talked or walked that much anyway.

Like my grandfather, my grandma never learned to speak English and hated anybody that didn't speak Spanish, including Americans. She still considered California to be part of Mexico.

One day, before she lost her speech a brown-skinned boy, obviously of Mexican descent started talking to her in English and she told him, "Aprende a hablar en español como tu papá, mocoso!" (Learn to speak Spanish like your dad, brat!) And she became furious when he responded, "Learn how to speak English, like your grandson, old lady!" I couldn't help but laugh, but I turned away so grandma wouldn't notice.

I began to cook after watching grandma struggle around the kitchen. She was still able to attend her needs. Her hygiene had been impeccable all her life and that was incorporated into all aspects of our lives. Tidiness was high on the list of grandma's virtues. The house and the butcher shop were always clean too.

When I bought the wheelchair, we installed wider doors and ramps, that way she could gain access to every room in the house. She could do anything but cook. After some time I became a decent cook. 

I enjoyed Grandma’s company, and the fact that she couldn't verbally criticize me made me feel like I didn't have a lot of flaws. I loved our one-way conversations. Her face became very expressive and I could read all gestures and signals. She wasn't very devoted or virtuous, but she spent a lot of time in church.

The butcher shop was in front of the Lincoln Oval Park, a small and decrepit park where the homeless and drug addicts spent their leisure time doing nothing. It was the poor side of town where most Mexicans used to live. Having the police station two blocks from there wasn’t a deterrent to crime and violence in the area. There were four second-hand stores in the neighborhood including the Salvation Army. 

The place was located in Visalia, in Central California. Population: one hundred thousand. The biggest attraction was the Sequoia National Park, thirty minutes east of town. Agriculture and dairy were their main labor sources.

Considering the bad economy and the high unemployment rate, business was still good.


Edmundo Barraza
Visalia, Ca, 08-27-2012


II
MY FATHER



My father had his own demons, like me. My grandma said that I was his replica. If Grandma was right, then, I was a total screw up.

He was always home, but to me, he was always absent. He was a good provider, though. I never knew what hunger was and I always had shoes on my feet, but that was basic stuff. What he lacked was more important than that. I would rather have been a poor kid with a great dad than a rich kid with a bad dad.

When I killed my father, I was thirty years old. I had endured over a decade of false accusations from him. He accused me of being a homosexual. I repressed my rage and resisted his suspicions and insults quietly. He never knew how badly he wounded my pride with his sarcasm. He'd say: "I wish I had two sons, that way at least the straight one could bring me a grandson." or "You'd make me happy if you could bring a girlfriend, but if you bring me a faggot like you, I kill you."

And the more he accused me of being gay, the harder he made it for me to take the decisive steps to find a girlfriend.

I couldn't understand the reasons why he was so homophobic. He was born here and had been here all his life, and yet he acted like a typical Mexican macho man. The most incomprehensible part is that I wasn’t gay. I was shy and never learned how to behave in front of women. My dad had just worsened my traumas with years of constant false accusations.

One time, I finally had enough and said, "Dad, I'm not gay, please stop suggesting that I am, because I'm not." and he responded, "The day you impregnate a girl and make me a grandfather I'll stop thinking that you're a faggot."

I even thought that I wasn't trying hard enough to find a girl just to not give him the satisfaction. And the years passed. I had had sex once in a while with prostitutes, but it was never satisfying. As for a long-term relationship with a regular girl it seemed impossible.

The irony of it all was that my father had not been a playboy either. He was as shy as I was. Grandpa had to take dad to Mexico to find a wife for him. My dad was fortunate to have found my mom, but I can't say the same for mom. Anyway, since dad died, I stopped feeling so miserable.

One day, a friend of mine showed up at the shop and I introduced him to my dad. After my friend finished with his shopping, my dad told him, "You should take my son out one of these days and help him find a girlfriend or a boyfriend, I still don't know what he likes." In an instant, I felt the heat coming out of my face. It was by far the most embarrassing moment of my life. I dropped my apron and went out through the back door.

That night I killed my dad.

I went to my room, sat on the bed and started crying. Then, I heard the squeaking sound of grandma's wheelchair. She looked at me with her sad face. Her bright black eyes had two sparkling tears in them. I just shook my head and said, "Dad". She knew my dad was the only person that could make me feel so sad. Without saying a word grandma was able to comfort me with a simple hug. But it wasn't enough.

Before she left the room, she mentioned that she suspected dad had killed my mom.

For a second, I thought about killing myself, but instead, I decided to kill him. The shop was closed when I came back. Dad was in the walk-in refrigerator, all I had to do was to slide the bolt. Through the small glass window on the door, I could see the shock in his eyes. 

As if nothing had happened and without any remorse, I went to the kitchen and started cooking dinner. At the table, looking at my father's empty chair, grandma questioned his whereabouts. I moved my head sideways and shrugged. 

It was past midnight when I went back to check the situation. Seven hours had passed after I locked him up. Before I opened the refrigerator, I noticed some words written on the fogged up glass window. At first, I thought it was something written from the inside. When I figured out what it said, I knew somebody had written it from the outside. It said, "ti evresed uoy". 

I saw dad in the corner, lying down on the floor in the fetal position. He had been cold all his life, now, he was just frozen dead. The temperature in there was -10 degrees F. I could never stay in that room for more than three minutes. 

I was a little nervous because I thought he could still be alive. But he was as hard as the rest of the meat in there. I grabbed the meat hook to move his body, but I thought it was disrespectful. Instead, I dragged him out of there by his feet.

First, I sawed off his head with a hand saw because he was too heavy to lift to the band saw table and I dismembered his extremities. With his blood frozen, I wasn't too worried about making a whole mess.

For the first time in my life, I started a conversation with him, and I wasn't afraid of hearing back his sarcastic comments. With unrelated sentences and with short intervals in between, I began:

"I told you a thousand times that I wasn't gay," then I made a cut in between his ribs, from the neck to the stomach.

"My grandma's right, you deserve it," then I removed his intestines.

"Now you'll never meet your grandchildren," then I removed his cold heart.

"You won't be so cold in hell," then I cut off his penis.

"Even your mother hated you," then I turned him over.

"Now you won't be calling me all those ugly epithets with your filthy mouth, like faggot, gay, homo, homosexual," then I sliced his buttocks.

"I saw you killing my grandpa, you cold-hearted bastard!"

And for the final question, I had to grab his decapitated head by the hair and put it in front of my face.

"Did you kill my mom? Mother fucker, did you kill her? Answer me, you piece of shit!"

Wasted body, wasted organs, wasted life. I had to use all the equipment in the shop, three different knives, a cleaver, a skinner, and a cimeter. Also, the handsaw, the table saw and the meat grinder. I sawed all the bones to three inches or less, even the cranium. Nobody would recognize those bones as human bones. Intestines and organs went straight to the trash, including his sexual organ, ugh! I put it all in a tightly sealed double heavy duty plastic bag, and in a separate bag all the bones. Hands and feet had to be cut into tiny pieces, and then to the grinder.

Out of two hundred and fifty pounds, I could get only sixty pounds of ground meat. On Saturday morning, the homeless, winos and drug addicts had free hamburgers. Dad was finally giving back to the community for years of loyal support.

I ended up with a big mess after all. I was glad dad had installed tile on all walls and floors, with Stainless steel equipment, a commercial water pressure washer and plenty of drains. When I finished, the place looked shiny new again. The shop was free of bacteria and parasites. My dad was finally gone. Hallelujah!

Mexicans had a few exclusive advantages, for instance, we could kill another Mexican and if somebody asked for him, we could answer, "He went back to Mexico, indefinitely."

Next day, I opened the “Carnicería Jalisco” or “Jalisco Meat Market” for the first time as a sole proprietor.



Edmundo Barraza
Visalia, CA. 09-02-2012



III
HAVE YOU SEEN LOLITA?



One day, I was cutting meat at the shop, when my dad bumped into me accidentally. I lost my aim and cut off half my middle finger. After it healed, every time I showed the finger to anybody it only felt like I was giving half an insult. That was the only good thing my dad did for me, cutting my finger off.

*****

One of the few distractions grandma had was going to church. The last time I joined her, I found out the reason priests adored her, especially Father Fidel. After taking communion, she gave him an envelope. When the service was over, Father Fidel volunteered to push her, even though the chair was battery operated. 

They appeared to be good friends and grandma seemed to enjoy his company. I was sure all her sins were forgiven in advance, given the significant amount of her donations.

Grandma collected more than six thousand dollars a month from the eleven houses we owned. I took care of everything concerning the butcher shop, while she was in charge of all our properties.

After grandfather bought the little grocery store, he turned it into a butcher shop, later he bought the house next door. When grandpa died, my father stubbornly began to buy one by one, all the houses in the entire block. Every time they put up a house for sale, he would buy it immediately. All mortgages were paid in full.

Ana Suarez owned the only house on the block that didn’t belong to us. I heard rumors that grandpa and she were lovers a long time ago. Grandma hated that lady with all her heart. The fact that we didn't own that house had been a matter of great obsession for grandma. It bothered me a little bit too.

One of the other houses was occupied by a single mother and her teenage daughter. One day, that lady asked me if I could give a job to her daughter. Since dad ‘had gone back to Mexico’, work had been overwhelming, so I gave her a job. Her name was Leticia.

The store seemed out of place in that deteriorated neighborhood. The asphalt in the large parking lot had been recently redone. The exterior paint in the building was still fresh, it had security cameras and we had a contract with an exterminating company. During business hours I felt safe with all my knives and hatchets.   

When I was a kid my grandfather gave me a beautiful machete. He told me he used in the jungles of Veracruz when he was a teenager. I kept it at all times under my bed. I thought I would never use it, until one night when I heard a noise in the store. I grabbed the machete and went to check, quiet as a cat. The back door was open a tiny crack. I found a guy trying to open the cash register.

The store was never in complete darkness, even with the lights off because of the lights inside the refrigerators. When he saw me, the expression on his face scared me too. He knew he was trapped. To escape, he had to pass by me. When he attacked me, my machete was already halfway between us. He tried to stop the blow with his left hand.
His hand and head went flying in different directions.

His beheaded body was spraying blood from the neck, his torso jerked on the floor for a few seconds. His head kept rolling until it landed on the back wall facing me with his arched eyebrows and wide open eyes, I was sure he was trying to say, “What the hell?”

After hearing the unmistakable squeaking sound of grandma’s wheelchair, she appeared on the back door. She moved her head slowly examining the scene. “I caught a thief trying to rob us, he attacked me and I killed him. Should I call the police?” I said, “No, they cause too much trouble." She replied and went back to the house. After being around a butcher shop for forty years, seeing so much blood wasn’t too shocking anymore.

As I began to dismember his body, I thought about my father. It’s been a few weeks since he’s been gone. I never missed him, on the contrary. I had learned to appreciate my new freedom. I could breathe easier.

I’d seen that guy a few times in the park. He was in his mid-twenties, obviously, he had many vices. Sometimes, he was with the group of winos, other times with the drug addicts, and other times with the gang members. He had several tattoos on his body. One thing’s for sure, nobody was going to miss him.

According to my calculations, the homeless in the park will have to be satisfied with half the hamburgers they had last time.


*****


Out of the blue, one day, Leticia asked me if I've seen the movie "Lolita".

I considered that to be a bad start. With that question she gave a clear opinion about herself, she obviously wasn't interested in boys her own age. Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita was about a ‘nymphet’ or sexually precocious young girl. Yes, I’ve seen the two film versions.

When I was Leticia's age I dreaded girls like Lolita, I felt intimidated by them. Girls like her were in part, the reason I was traumatized. Girls like her forced me to run and hide in the dark corners of my room. I enjoyed watching them from the distance, but I never went near them.

I was sure a psychiatrist would find dozens of traumas in the dark alleys of my brain that profoundly affected my mind. In my teenage years, I went through many embarrassing moments that turned me into a pathetic person. I knew I was ‘sanely insane’ or ‘insane on the inside’ or something like that.

I was completely fascinated by that movie, by the boldness of the male character and by Lolita’s seductive audacity. She was my greatest fear, and the male protagonist was the role model I could never be. Both of them were partly guilty for their demise, but I couldn’t blame only one of them.

Leticia was attractive in a common way. Nothing specific stood out, except her breasts and her spunky, extroverted personality, she said she enjoyed that movie a lot. She said she felt attracted to older men, but not too old like the main character in the movie, like me, she said.

I was glad my back was facing her because my entire face was burning red.

“Yes, Leticia, I’ve seen that movie, why do you ask? Are you comparing yourself to her?”

I was seventeen years older than her. I was supposed to be a mature person, but I knew I wasn’t. My life had been a long procession of humiliation, unnoticed by most people because I always walked away. I was the adult in the room, I was the owner of the establishment, the boss, but I knew that a false reaction could send me to hide in my room.

“No, I’m just making a conversation,” and then she added, “Why don’t you have a girlfriend, boss?”

Shit! I just blushed in front of her, damn it! I’m losing ground here. I better come up with something bold.

“Listen, Leticia, I never discuss my intimate life with anybody. But I know that when I find a girlfriend, she won’t be from this neighborhood.”

“Why boss, are we all low-lifers in this neighborhood for you?”

“No, Leticia, don’t get me wrong, I didn’t mean it like that. What I meant was that there are no cute girls in the neighborhood. Well, except for you, but you’re too young.”

“Okay boss, whatever you say, but I know you’re right about the neighborhood. They’re a bunch of losers; I wouldn’t date any of them, besides there are no cute boys around here, well, except for you, but you’re too old.”

With her proximity and her ebullient nature, she might be able to lessen my stupid shyness. With her around, I had to confront my fears on a daily basis. Make them part of my regular life, get used to them, and who knows; maybe I would even conquer my fears once and for all.


Edmundo Barraza
Visalia, CA. 09-09-2012



IV
LIKE FATHER LIKE SON



My father and my grandfather used to get along fine. Their personalities were similar. They respected each other, but they were very old-fashioned and very cold. But they weren't always like that.

When I was a kid they used to be playful. We used to go to the ocean, to amusement parks, we used to go fishing and camping. We were like a normal family. When I turned eleven or twelve, things began to change. It was an imperceptible transition. My dad and my grandpa changed too, they stopped being friends. To me, it was rough and confusing. So, I stayed in the lonely comforts of my mind and became withdrawn and shy.

They began to treat me like an adult. After doing my homework, they would take turns to teach me how to be a butcher. 

Another big change came when grandpa told dad about his intentions of retirement. My grandfather was eighty years old.

"I'm tired, son, I've been thinking about selling the place and retiring to Mexico, I've lasted as long as I could. I should have retired ten years ago, but they say that you die two years after you retire, so I cheated death for at least eight years already. Your mom and I are going back to Mexico."

"But dad, you can't do that, you can't sell the shop. What are we going to do?" he asked with a preoccupied look on his face.

"I'll leave you some money so you can start your own business or you can get a job at the big new supermarket, they'll need a lot of butchers. Or better yet, you and Angel can come with us. We're buying a small ranch in Jalisco. You are welcome to stay with us."

"But dad, I've worked all my life for you. I'm forty-four years old, how can I start working for somebody else, and how can I follow you to your retirement ranch? That makes no sense."

"Listen, son, I can say the same thing, I've worked all my life for you. What am I supposed to do, retire to nothing, with nothing? You can always sell your house or save some money like I did when I was twenty years old. We don't need to fight over this. The decision has been made; we don't need to discuss it any longer."

A couple of weeks later, grandpa was dead.

At my dad’s suggestion, we went fishing to the Sequoia Mountains. The three generations making the last trip together. My grandfather Ricardo was eighty-four years old, my father was forty years old, and I was fourteen years old, Angel.

Our favorite spot to fish was a narrow wooden bridge, above a beautiful creek. 

From the unpaved parking place, we still had to walk uphill for half an hour. With our legs hanging down from the bridge, we prepared our rods and bait and got ready to fish all day. After a few minutes, dad said he forgot the lunch box and asked me to fetch it from behind the truck. 

On my way back, through a clearing in the woods, I could see the bridge. As I hiked a little higher I could see them at the rocky bottom of the stream. I could barely see dad lifting a rock above his head and hitting my grandpa with it. I couldn't believe my eyes! Was it real? It was like watching a silent movie, no sound, just movements.
I rubbed my eyes and when I opened them again, I saw the same image, dad was killing grandpa. I began to run to save grandpa, but I was too far. Then, I thought I couldn’t do anything. Dad would have to kill me too. 

After all, grandpa retired to Mexico, but in a coffin, and without grandma. He always said he wanted to end up in a Mexican cemetery. We fulfilled his wish and went to bury him there.

Dad turned colder and meaner after that day. I never told him that I saw him killing grandpa. It would have been useless. If I had reported the crime, they would have taken dad to prison. I was fourteen years old, I was afraid and I knew I’d be even more afraid without a family. I never said a thing to grandma either.

My dad told the police that grandpa slipped on the bridge and fell. Dad was a good actor, they believed the entire story.

The following day, dad opened the store as a sole proprietor.


Edmundo Barraza
Visalia, Ca. 09-16-2012




V
STAIRWAY TO HELL



Leticia dressed in a very suggestive manner, or maybe, everything looked very suggestive on her. If I sent her to the walk-in refrigerator for a piece of meat, she would come out with her suggestive erected nipples. If she wore a miniskirt, she would show her underwear left and right. No modesty at all. Tight jeans, tight t-shirts or blouses, everything looked provocative on her. It was little distracting in a good kind of way. 

She brought new life to the place and to my life. She handled her job with great efficiency. Most of the customers already knew her. But I found a little inconvenient to walk around with a hard-on all day.

Her light brown skin looked soft and fresh. She had short brown hair. Her long legs were beautiful, but her breasts were the main attraction. When she smiled, a little dimple formed on her left cheek. At first, she seemed average looking to me, but with the passage of time, she appeared prettier each day. After three weeks, she still didn’t call me by my name. 

Her dad was deported back to Mexico three years ago, after three consecutive DUI infractions in one year. Her mom was a cashier at the Salvation Army. 

After closing time we stayed for an extra hour to clean and organize everything for the next day.

“Hey Boss, seriously, why don’t you have a girlfriend? You’re kind of cute.”

I’d been adapting to her flirty nature, I hardly blush anymore. I felt comfortable enough around her. I hardly felt intimidated by her candid and extroverted behavior. She was a little immature, but I believe that her personality was natural and innocent. Her intentions were not meant to offend anyone.

“I don’t know, Leticia, people can’t believe I never had a girlfriend in my life. They must think I’m gay. The fact of the matter is that I’ve been very shy all my life. The only time I asked a girl out, a million years ago, she turned me down and I never asked any other girls again. I felt deeply embarrassed and hurt. The humiliation was so huge, that I didn’t come out of my room for a whole week.”

My dad came to my mind right away. I hadn't realized how obvious it must have been for him to think that I was a gay. 

"I think that’s kind of cute, boss I’ve never met a guy as shy as you in my life. Most guys I know are pushy, and they can’t take no for an answer. I wish I was that girl that said no to you, I would have said ‘yes’, and stayed the whole week in the room with you.”

"That's nice Leticia, but when that happened you were probably in your mom's womb."


*****


My dad had offered 130,000 dollars to Ana Suarez for her house but she refused. She was a retired teacher. She had a daughter in Arizona, and they’ve been estranged for many years. I’ve heard a rumor that after their affair was discovered, her husband left her. A few months later her daughter moved away too. She’s lived by herself since then. I've never seen her at the shop. She was either a vegetarian or bought her meat elsewhere.

I made another offer for her house for 160,000 dollars. She turned it down too. She said that she’d rather burn the house than to please grandma. She said she'd lost her husband and her daughter, but she would never lose her house. She also said that grandma didn't know how to make a man happy, so he was looking someplace else.

What a sad old lady, still embittered by events that happened decades ago. But I bet grandma felt the same way. I was hoping to give a nice surprise to grandma, but instead, I gave her the bad news and told her everything Mrs. Suarez said. 

My grandma was enraged. She carried a notepad with her at all times to write anything that’s long or hard to express. She wrote with a shaky hand that she’d be happy when that old bitch dies and that if she were younger, she would gladly kill her herself.

That gave me an idea.

The house of Ana Suarez is adjacent to the back of our house. Throughout the years, there had been a few disputes or incidents involving Mrs. Suarez and grandma. One day, a dead rat appeared in our backyard, grandma suspected that Mrs. Suarez had thrown it over the wooden fence, so she threw it back. Next day, it showed up in our yard again. It went back and forth for a whole week. Until I put it in the trash. 

On another occasion, a branch from one of our old trees fell on her patio. The following day, that branch and other branches that obviously were not part of our tree, appeared in our backyard. And then, she demanded that we fix the fence. 

Sometimes, I would hear the two old ladies grumble at each other, exchanging unintelligible insults over the fence as they tended their yards. Their anger and bitterness, instead of disappearing with time kept increasing with their infantile behavior.

One day, on the sly, I removed three wood boards from the fence and left them loosely hanging against the fence so when the opportunity came, I could remove them quickly. 

My plan was to kidnap Ana Suarez from her backyard while she’d be hanging her clothes on the clothesline, or while tending to her tomato plants. I thought I could grab her from behind and drag her to the shop. 

When I told grandma about my plans, she nodded and smiled morbidly. 

Grandma knew about my dad and about the thief, that made her an accomplice to my crimes, but I didn’t know how twisted she really was.

A couple of days later, I found the perfect opportunity. As Mrs. Suarez was hanging her clothes near the fence, I grabbed her from behind. I bet she almost had a heart attack. I covered her mouth and lifted her body, she was light as a feather, but she kept kicking like a mule. Grandma was watching with a diabolical smile, as she followed us in her squeaky wheelchair. 

In the shop, I covered her mouth with duct tape and tied her up to a chair. My grandma was in front of her with a wicked smile on her face. I bet grandma wished we could keep her like that forever.

With one end of a rope, I tied and pulled up her head from her ponytail, and I tied the other end to the ceiling light. I wanted the back of her neck to be accessible for the next part of my plan. Then, I moved grandma aside and grabbed my sharp machete. In an instant, Mrs. Suarez’s head ended up swinging like a piñata in the middle of our shop. Grandma didn't waste a second and hurried to steady Ana Suarez’s head, and said to her head: “P U T A” with a hideous, sneering smile.

My grandma was now, not only my accomplice but my willing partner too.

On Saturday, my homeless friends had hamburgers again. I didn't receive any compliments that time, one of them even dared to complain, “It tasted like old meat, but it was okay.” 

A few weeks later Mrs. Suarez’s daughter showed up after someone reported her mom’s disappearance. Afterward, she put the house for sale. I offered her 120,000 dollars, and she accepted.


Edmundo Barraza
Visalia, CA. 09-23-2012




VI
My dad killed his dad, I killed my dad.
Should I have a son?



I’ve felt abnormally normal. I knew that was the result of two events that happened recently in my life: the disappearance of my father and the appearance of Leticia. It was a satisfying and therapeutic pause to my prolonged mental suffering.

Three people had died at my hands recently. But I need to clarify that I didn’t kill my dad, he died, I might have provoked his death, but he was already dead when I cut him up. The thief’s death wasn’t my fault at all. Ana Suarez’s death was my grandma’s wish, so we needed to share the blame 50/50.

My perverse thoughts had been fulfilled temporarily. The usual evil desires to kill people had faded a little bit. The sudden impulses I felt to push people to incoming cars, to push people from bridges, or to stab their backs had decreased. 

Since I was young, I had imagined how easy it would be to kill anyone. That feeling gave me an imaginary power. But I was sure it was all because I was jealous to see other people happy. 

For years I had the same recurring dream. I was seven years old and a girl, maybe one year older than me kept chasing me. She wanted to kiss me but I was afraid and confused, I wanted to get away from her and crawled under my bed, there, she reached her goal and kissed me. After she went away, I stayed there until dark.

But the first time it happened was not a dream. Since then, I've been having the same dream all my life. Since then, I felt secure in the shadows where I felt anonymous and nobody knew me.


*****


I had a beautiful vision one day after closing the store while working at the cash register. I turned my head and I saw Leticia standing on a stool cleaning the top of the refrigerator. She was wearing a short skirt, and I could see the entire magnitude of her beautiful long legs. She had a tiny pair of white underwear that didn’t cover the lower part of her butt cheeks.

She caught me watching her, but she didn't cover herself, instead, she gave me a provocative smile. And I didn't blush, which was in itself a small miracle. I thought I had been cured.

I didn’t know how to handle the situation, I didn’t know how to approach her, but I wanted to have her. The consequences didn’t matter to me. She was tempting me brazenly. She was like a snake offering an apple. 

I had to have her. I knew hiding in my room wasn’t an option. I didn’t know how to handle romance or love. I knew neither of us wanted any kind of boring courtship. Maybe, rape shouldn’t be involved. Maybe.

I grabbed her by the waist and brought her down. I ripped her panties, spit on my hand and rubbed her clitoris for two seconds. Then, I penetrated her. I covered her mouth with my hand just in case. After she showed how excited she was, I removed my hand from her mouth. 

I was insatiable and so was she. I never had to force her. Obviously, my ‘brutal rape’ had turned into a fantasy. In fact, she was now taking the lead. She was far more experienced than I was. I felt a little disappointed, but I kept satisfying my prolonged sexual abstinence.

Then, she interrupted my thoughts and said, “You don't have to worry, I’m on the pill.” The enchantment turned into deception. She had been a ‘Lolita’ for someone else. A few years back.

During our heated sexual encounter, I thought I heard grandma’s wheelchair. Later, while I was preparing dinner, grandma wrote on her notepad, “I knew your dad was wrong.” as she handed me the note. I noticed a mild approving smile on her face.

Love had always been a distant foreign feeling, even friendship and affection was unknown to me. Leticia was altering emotions I didn't know I had. I was getting a chance to learn what a normal life could be. 

I had lost an entire decade of my life, most of my twenties. I didn’t know where all those years went. I wished I had met Leticia a dozen years earlier. 

One night, she convinced me to go to the movies with her. She was sixteen years old, but she looked older. I was thirty-three years old, but I looked younger. That was actually my first date. How absurd was that? I wasn’t breaking the law by going out with her, but if they'd find out I was having sex with her that meant some jail time for sure. 

She had to ask her mom for permission to go to the movies. How weird was that? We’ve been having sex for two months, and she needed permission to go to the movies.

The following week, she asked me out again.

We went to see a new band. The place was loud and crowded. I was having a decent time until Leticia went to the restroom. Then, I saw her talking to an older guy, probably four or five years older than her. I didn't see her again until next day at the shop. 

In the morning, she appeared with a couple of hickeys on her neck. I always thought that to be the lowest of all vulgarities.

I had a hunch that guys like me couldn’t be so lucky for a long period of time.

Her fate had been decided after a short discussion that took place inside my head. Somehow, I didn’t participate in that decision.

The first thing she said was, “I’m pregnant, and I’m sure it’s yours. I lied to you when I said I was on the pill. You’re the only one that I allow to have sex with without wearing a condom,” she added, “I’m telling you this because I don’t want to hear any sermons. Last night I took off with an old boyfriend of mine. I don’t need to give any explanations. After all, we’re not in a relationship or anything.”

I just shrugged and said, “It’s alright, never mind about last night. If you’re really pregnant what are you planning to do with the little person inside you?”

I couldn’t say ‘the baby’ or ‘our baby.’ I didn’t know if it was a lie or if it was mine. Besides, a decision had been made already.

“You can marry me, and we can have the child, or you can fire me, and never see the child,” she said.

Her sudden illogical arguments and aberrations had my head spinning.

“What a drastic change Leticia. I don’t understand why you’re acting this way. I know there’s no love between us, but I thought that we were at least friends. I don’t want to be a father, I’m not ready for that, and I don’t think you’re ready to get married or to have a child either. You can do whatever you want with your life and with your child. Whatever this thing was, it’s over.” 

“What do you mean by that?" she replied, "Are you erasing me from your life, are you? Please forgive me. I didn't know what I was doing. I wanted to defend myself before you started to attack me. I know I shouldn’t have gone with anybody else and left you there. I apologize for that," and then she added, “When they deported my dad, I was thirteen years old, since then, I’ve been doing whatever I pleased with my life. I’ve never been a nice girl, but I was trying hard to be one for you. I know you didn’t do anything wrong. Please forgive me.” She sounded regretful, but I doubted her sincerity. 

“All right, just forget the whole thing. We need to open the store.” and with that sentence, she probably thought everything was back to normal.

The rest of the day, my pseudo-nymphet had what appeared to be a normal day. The minute we closed, Leticia was out of her clothes and going down on me. I was fighting my own excitement. I couldn’t help but think that the night before she was doing the same thing to another guy. And that the same guy had been biting her neck like a vulgar vampire. I almost refused her, but by then, I was enjoying it too much. 

Just when I thought I was finally regenerated, just when I thought my salvation had arrived, she betrayed me.

I almost felt bad for what I was about to do; my mind was struggling. In a way, I had been faithful to her my whole life, but she had been faithful to me only two months. Nobody was allowed to deceive me more than once.  

I was inside her, but my mind was somewhere else. I felt a rush of rage invading my body. I was now attacking her, I was raping her. That was my clear intention, but it bothered me that she was on the brink of another orgasm. I grabbed her by the neck and started squeezing it with all my strength, and the harder I tighten my grip, the harder I continued to bump her. 

I guess that wasn’t a bad way to die, to have an orgasm during her last breath. Perhaps she thought it was a joke or just a temporary punishment. When I killed my dad, I didn’t see his eyes the precise instant when he died. This time, I saw death in Leticia’s eyes and I saw her soul leaving her body. I saw terror and pain in her eyes. 

The following day, Leticia’s mom came to the store to see if she was here because she didn’t spend the night at home. I told her she didn’t show up to work either, and that she had asked me for eight hundred dollars in advance the day before. I told her Leticia had mentioned her plans to go to Las Vegas or Hollywood to look for fame and fortune. Her mom said she had heard about that too, and then she lowered her shoulders in defeat and went away. 

The following Saturday, three persons in the park mentioned how good the hamburgers were. I didn’t taste them, but I saved two portions of meat for my grandma and me. 

Grandma had excellent table manners. She was always boasting about her European ancestry and the superiority of the French cuisine. Well, this time I used a fancy French recipe. The main ingredient was supposed to be lamb, but instead of lamb, I used Leticia’s breasts, one for my grandma and one for me. 

The plate looked impressive. The breasts looked proud and pompous. My grandma knew Leticia had been missing for two days but never inquired about her. When I served her plate, immediately and with an inquisitive look she asked, “Leticia?” as she pointed to the plate. I assented, and she proceeded with delicacy and finesse to handle the utensils. She even looked a little comical.

After she finished, she wrote on her pad: “Too bad they only come with two of them.”


Edmundo Barraza
Visalia, Ca.




VII
My Father Created a Monster



After Leticia ‘went away’ I began to miss her right away. I missed her smile and having sex with her. But I had to do it, she was meant to be mine or nobody else’s. Besides that, I had lost an excellent helper. I knew it would be hard to find a good replacement. 

I put a ‘help wanted’ sign on the window. Two people applied, but I didn't like them. I felt bad when I turned them down, so I gave them fifty dollars for applying. Next day, three more people showed up but I turned them down too. Since it was getting a little too expensive, I removed the sign. I knew deep down I was looking for Leticia’s replica.

As I was driving aimlessly through town on a Sunday afternoon, I pulled over to pick up a hitchhiker. She was in her early twenties. She looked too clean, decent and attractive to be a prostitute, but I knew decent girls don’t ask for rides.

“Where are you going?” I asked her as she got in the car.

“Nowhere in particular, I’m just killing time. I’m just staying in town for a couple of days while I make some money to continue my trip. If I find a job, I might stay for a couple of weeks, how about you, where are you going?”

“I was heading for the movies, but I wasn’t too enthusiastic about it,” I replied.

“Well, if you’re looking for some fun we can look together. Do you want to go somewhere?”

I'd found out hookers are easy to talk to, they didn’t intimidate me at all. Most of them were friendly because they have to pretend they’re attracted to you.

“Yeah, there’s a secluded park by the river at the edge of town, you want to join me?”

After having sex with Leticia so often, I didn't know how I managed to be without it for so long.

I parked the car at the far end of the park where few people could see us. She said she was from Oregon. Her objective was to reach L.A. to try her luck at acting. 

She’d been alternating the Greyhound bus and hitchhiking depending on her luck. She said she’d been abused back home. Parents and grownups abuse kids in so many different ways, no wonder there are so many unhappy adults in the world, misfits, psychos, and serial killers.

Then, she went straight to the point and gave me the rates. I paid her in advance. I’ve never been a big spender, but I always carried two or three hundred dollars with me. It was getting dark and there was only another car left.

After she showed me the entire cosmos, stars and comets for three minutes, I managed to remove her blouse and bra. I wanted to compare her breasts with Leticia’s. Leticia won by a small margin. After we were done I invited her for a beer.

As I was putting my pants on, I noticed the rest of my money was missing. When I confronted her, she denied having taken it. I checked her pants, shoes, and even her underwear, and while doing it I got excited again and offered her another hundred dollars for sex if she’d give me my money back. When she declined, I pushed her out of the car without any clothes on. 

I could see her getting smaller in my rear-view mirror. But I couldn’t be so cruel. I knew I was going to regret it later, so I returned and opened the door to let her back in. Then, she gave me my money back.

“I’m sorry, thanks for coming back. You know, sometimes I meet real bad guys that abuse my vulnerability. I’ve been beaten and robbed, so I have to balance it out. I’m not a hooker, I’ve always enjoyed sex, but I figured why not get paid while doing it, right? Is the offer for the beer still valid? What’s your name?” 

“Angel” I replied.

She had a room in a cheap motel. We had sex and talked for hours, she seemed as lonely as I was, but I knew her loneliness was only temporary. I returned home a little before midnight. 

I offered her a job and she accepted it. I hope I don’t regret it. I could still back out and blame it on the alcohol.

When she showed up next morning I asked for her driver’s license and told her I was keeping it until she earned my trust.

“Okay, we got off on the wrong foot, but if you stay, you'll soon find out I'm not a bad person. Respect me and my property, and we'll get along just fine. My former employee didn’t follow these rules and I had to terminate her. Behave properly and you’ll be rewarded accordingly, I swear.”

“Don’t you think you’re being a little too dramatic? After all, it’s just a temporary cashier’s job.” She said.

“Yeah, you’re right, but I don’t want you to end up like the other girl.”


*****

(An unread letter)


“I’m afraid for my life. If I’m dead while you’re reading this letter, let the police know that I only suspected my husband. If I disappear or end up buried in the desert; my husband should be the only one to blame. I love him, but he thinks that I had an affair with my cousin while he stayed with us for a few weeks. I’ve always been very close to my cousin. We grew up together and had been good friends all our lives. I only love him like a brother, but my husband Ramon is too stubborn and irrational to understand that.

I really think he might kill me. I know nobody would believe me if I accuse him without any proof. I've lived in constant fear for the last few days, I’m afraid of what he might do next. He was a complete maniac when he found out that my cousin gave me a crucifix, and he ripped it off from my neck. I can’t control my suffering any longer.

When I’m beside him he refuses to touch me. Last time we had sex he suddenly stopped and asked me if my cousin was better than him.

I wish to die instead of continuing this way, it’s truly unbearable. I finally suggested to him that it might be better if I went back to Mexico. He became furious and said that all I want is to return to my cousin. I thought about leaving him without saying a word and take my son with me, but I’m sure he would find us and kill us both. I keep praying, but it’s no use. 

This is just too exhausting.

Whatever happens let my husband know that infidelity is a horrible word that never crossed my mind.”

Luisa Martinez Junco Visalia, CA 09-25-1984



One night grandma found a letter under the mattress, in what used to be my mom’s bedroom. I had many painful nights all my life, but last night was the worst by far. It broke my heart. The pain was unbearable. 

I wished my dad was alive so I could kill him again. My dad always said that my mom abandoned us and that she went back to Mexico to join a former lover.
 
On the day this letter was written, I was six years old.


Edmundo Barraza
Visalia, Ca.



VIII
ASCENDING PSYCHO



Her name was Joy, she was twenty years old. She had been waiting a long time to move away from home. Her plan was to get established in LA and later return for her sixteen-year-old sister because she didn’t want her to have the same miserable life she had. 

We made an oral agreement, she promised to stay for at least three months and after that, we could make new arrangements. 

I offered her to stay in a small house and she accepted. She seemed to be smarter than Leticia. She had short reddish, brown hair, clear brown eyes and was very attractive. It took her just a short week to learn how to handle the job with expertise.

On her first weekend in town, I invited her out for a beer. We ended up in a gay bar. She appeared to be comfortable around gay people. She was actually very friendly with everybody. 

After a few beers, she asked me to dance.

“I’m not drunk enough,” I said.

Her company was very pleasant. She hadn’t noticed yet how shy I was.

“I’ve never danced in public in my whole life. I’m sure I don’t know how to dance to any kind of music, but if I’m drunk and if it’s crowded I might give it a try.” I said.

We never found out if I could dance because we got drunk and forgot about dancing. We returned home around midnight and we had sex. 

She said one of his dad’s friends raped her when she was sixteen and that her dad stabbed him in the back. They sentenced her dad to five years in prison, but he did only two. Her mom left them while he was in jail. She was afraid something like that could happen to her younger sister too. 


*****


So far, the murders I’ve committed had been ‘hate crimes’. I hated insults and denigration, (Dad) I hated getting robbed, (Thief) and I hated betrayal (Leticia). I've been around animal blood, meat and bones all my life, but my emotions never got involved in that. When I first came in contact with human blood, I noticed it could be addictive. 

Being in control gave me power, and with that power, shyness disappeared.

The perfect crime is perfect until it gets discovered, and if you kill someone and nobody finds out, it could become an obsession to kill again—being so easy.

Joy adapted quickly to the city, she seemed relaxed and happy. We went back to the gay bar.

“I like this little town. I love my new freedom too.” She said.

“It must be hard for a woman to be on the road all by herself, right?”

“Oh, yeah, there are a lot of psychos in California, but not you, you’re a sweet guy. I can't even imagine you killing an ant.”

“I hope you never find out what I’m capable of, but thanks for your honest opinion.”

“I must tell you again that I’m not a hooker. I never accepted doing it with dirty old men, only good looking guys like you. I don’t think I’ll do it again. By the way, I wanted to thank you for your hospitality and your friendship. I really needed a break from the instability and dangers of the road.”

“Well, you’ve been very helpful. At first, the customers felt a little intimidated by you because they don’t speak English, but now, they like you because you’re trying to speak Spanish. They think it’s funny.” 

“I can’t believe so many people in America don’t speak English. But I like Spanish people, the food, the music, their culture”

“But we’re not Spanish, we’re Mexicans.”

“You know what I mean, Latinos, Hispanics, Mexicans, all I’m trying to say is people that speak Spanish.” 

I should have started drinking alcohol when I was younger. It made me feel less inhibited. Had I noticed it fifteen years ago, I’d be a happy alcoholic instead of the recluse, introverted asshole that I am now.

Some guys were playing pool in the back. Half the people were in their underwear, even the bartender. Joy found out that every night they had a different theme, and today was “underwear day”. 

She dared me to remove my pants.

"I’m not drunk enough,"

“It seems that you’re never drunk enough, come on, let’s play in our panties.”

"Hey, I'm not wearing panties," I said.

"Ha, you know what I mean."

I wasn’t brave enough to take communion at church, but there I was, shooting pool in my briefs surrounded by gay people and it felt great. If dad could see me he’d kill me for sure. 

A guy kept sending us drinks, I didn’t know if he was after Joy or me. I couldn’t tell if he was gay or not. When he finally approached us, instead of shaking my hand, he grabbed my balls. 

His name was Alfred, he said we could call him Al or Fred, but I decided to call him Fredo. He looked a little like Fredo, from the movie The Godfather. He was after my bones after all. 

Watching two guys kiss could make me cringe, two girls not so much, but I knew I could never have sex with another man, not even if I was drunk.

After a while, Fredo invited us to his house, Joy declined. She said she was too drunk. I called for a taxi cab to take her home, but I stayed. Fredo probably thought I was going to have sex with him, but I had other plans. Instead of going to his place, I took him to the butcher shop.

If he could see the future, he’d feel safer in hell. 

As soon as we got in the shop, I put my apron on and started sharpening my machete. 

“You’ll be my slave for the rest of the night,” I said.

“Ooh, I like it. You’re so cool. I’ll let you do whatever you want with me.” he replied.

I told him to sit on a stool. I covered his eyes with his own tie, put a rag in his mouth and covered it with duct tape. Then, I tied his hands with an electrical cord and put them on top of a butcher’s block. Then, I grabbed my reliable machete and with savage force I cut off both hands.  

He didn’t react for at least a full second. With the sensation of still having his hands attached to his arms, he was trying to remove the tie from his eyes and the duct tape from his mouth. But all he was doing was rubbing his bloody stumps all over his face.

He screamed at the top of his lungs, but with his mouth gagged, it was all in vain. He started jumping like a chicken without its head. It was a surreal and bizarre bloody sight.

His actions were a total sign of impotent desperation. He began to run until he crashed into the wall and bounced back. Then, with a powerful blow of my machete, he really didn’t have a head anymore. 

Fred, Alfred or Fredo didn’t exist anymore. Our lives converged only for a few hours, now he was gone. Satan sent him my way at the wrong time.

Fredo didn't do anything wrong, he was probably a good person. He could say life wasn’t fair, I could say that too. 

My homeless friends were happy again. Some of them had started to call me ‘Don Angel’. They formed an orderly long line to get their hamburgers. I saved two portions of meat for grandma and me.

The following night, I prepared another exquisite dish for grandma chosen from her French recipe book. 

I thought my plan could be a little gross, but I was about to test grandma’s limits. I stuffed Fredo’s penis with a zucchini, and his balls with the sweetest and biggest peaches I could find. That was for grandma, and for me, I had several thin slices of fillet taken from his buttocks.

I put it in the oven at 350° for ninety minutes and then I surrounded the plate with steamed vegetables and added grapes and tiny squares of apples and pears, all sprinkled with cinnamon and a few drops of honey. 

When I served the plate to my impatient grandma, with an astonished look, she jerked her body an inch backward as if she had the hiccups. After a brief instant, with a subtle smile, she took my plate and passed me hers. Then, she started eating with singular elegance and excellent manners.

Grandma wasn’t so twisted after all. 

I didn’t touch the plate, instead, I grabbed some cereal and milk and kept looking at the grotesque organ, and I thought that maybe even Fredo’s boyfriend wouldn’t have eaten it either.


Edmundo Barraza
Visalia, CA. 10-22-2012




IX
KNOCKING ON HELL'S DOOR



One night Joy and I watched a movie about a serial killer. I was completely hooked on the story, I hardly blinked at all.

The protagonist’s father was a compulsive gambler and alcoholic, his mother was also an alcoholic. She frequently left him in the care of their grandfather, a convicted child molester. He was neglected and often fed by neighbors. 

When he was six, he was placed in an orphanage, where he remained for three years. At age ten he was arrested for minor crimes and ended up in a juvenile detention center, where he was sexually abused by older boys. 

By his teens, back home with his mother, he began molesting younger children. In his twenties, he was in and out of prison for ten years for sexually assaulting youths between the ages of 12 and 18. At some point, he was released after doctors had concluded he was “no longer a danger to others.” A year later he was back behind bars for raping a fourteen-year-old hitch-hiker at gunpoint, he was sentenced to one to fifteen years in prison. Four years later he was released again, and he told a friend, “No one’s going to testify again. This will never happen to me again.”

After killing more than thirty boys from twelve to nineteen years of age in a period of little more than a year, he was caught thanks to a tip from one of his accomplices. After he had confessed, he expressed no remorse, and he said, “If I were free I’d still be killing. I couldn’t stop killing. It got easier each time”.

The first murder he committed was a thirteen-year-old hitchhiker. The autopsy showed that he had been emasculated, bludgeoned, stabbed and strangled to death. All of them were raped. One was stabbed more than 70 times. One was forced to drink acid another was killed with an ice pick driven into his ear.

He was sentenced to the death penalty. After 16 years in prison, he was the first person in California to be executed by lethal injection because the gas chamber was found to be a “cruel and unusual” method of execution.

Joy and I didn’t have sex that night; the movie was too disturbing. After it was over, I went home to have a talk with my brain, and analyze it. 

The movie pushed me to reflect on my depraved actions. I knew I wasn’t as vicious or cruel as this killer. My machete kills like a guillotine, there’s no suffering involved, and it only takes a second.

I knew I was going straight to hell, there was no doubt about it, but there had to be a difference on the punishment one gets. Would I get the same punishment if a kill one person or if I kill ten? 

I inherited my dad’s ‘bad blood’. What he did with me had a devastating effect on my sanity. I gained nothing by blaming dad for all my evil acts. All I could say was that if I had a good father, I’d be a good son. 

The death penalty didn’t scare me at all. Most killers don’t care about capital punishment. I don’t think it works as a deterrent, at least not in my case.

Before they executed the serial killer, he declared: 

“I feel the death penalty is not the answer to the problems at hand, I feel it sends the wrong message to the people of this country. Young people act as they see other people acting instead of as people tell them to act. I would advise that when a person has a thought of doing something serious against the law, that before they do, they should go to a quiet place and think about it seriously.” 

Why should I be afraid of hell if I’m dead already and I can’t feel a thing? Why should I be afraid if I cannot die a second time? 


*****


Joy’s sister was seventeen when she arrived in town. She had reddish, brown hair. She was even more beautiful than Joy, She reminded me of Leticia. She was very friendly and effusive and she seemed genuinely pleased to meet me. 

Sadie was the one who should have been named Joy because she was full of joy. 

Joy and I decided to let her work with us. I didn’t know what to expect with the new situation. I might turn Joy loose and try my luck with my new ‘Lolita’.

Two weeks later, she was enjoying the Mexican folklore. We heard Mexican music all day; I figured she’ll be singing mariachi songs soon. Joy warned me to stay away from her. I didn’t know if that could be possible, it was up to Sadie. 

If Joy thought I could break Sadie's heart, she was wrong. I knew I could never break anybody’s heart. It had always been the opposite.

I wondered if my thirst to kill had been satisfied. Nobody was tormenting me anymore, but after watching that movie, I thought I still had so much to learn about myself.


Edmundo Barraza
Visalia, Ca.




X
A Glimpse of Paradise



I got a ticket for driving drunk, it was well deserved. The judge suspended my driver’s license for six months and I had to go to AA meetings for six months. Alcohol had been my best friend for the last months. Since Joy and I started going out to bars, I felt a lot less inhibited or introverted. Alcohol helped me get rid of my insecurities, at least temporarily.

A lot of the people in the AA meetings hadn’t touched alcohol in years and still, they kept coming. Some of them went to the podium and openly told stories about their lives. The great majority of them were sent by the Court, for alcohol, drug or traffic violations. But I hardly saw any wealthy people in those places. It appeared that rich people didn’t commit that kind of infractions. 

Most of them were male, half of them had tattoos. Many of them looked like hippies or Vietnam veterans. I didn’t belong there. I felt out of place. But probably most of them felt the same way.

I didn’t miss driving my car at all. When I was a teenager I preferred walking to riding the bus. Besides Joy could be my driver and Sadie was taking driving lessons.

After one of the meetings, while walking back home, I began to think about finding a rich person to kill, a wealthy female lawyer or a smart and successful doctor, then I wondered if there were any stupid doctors. I wondered how it felt to kill a smart, powerful person. But I’ve never seen a person that fitted that description in this part of town.

My last victim was Fredo, and since then things have been tedious. On the streets, I saw every single person as a potential victim, the Mexican guy selling corn on the cob, the black homeless guy pushing a cart with aluminum cans and bottles, the middle-aged chubby woman crossing the street, coming from work or going to the market. But I didn’t see them as a great source of excitement. 

Then, I saw a woman waiting at the bus stop, she appeared to be a streetwalker taking a break or looking for someone to hook. She smiled at me when I sat next to her. When she asked me if I was looking for a good time, I knew the drought was over. She was in her thirties. She had no distinctive attributes, she was just plain average. 

She gave me her rates: forty and sixty. I offered her a hundred dollars but told her she had to be blindfolded while we did it. She accepted.

Then, we headed for my butcher shop or chamber of torture, no, not torture, just chamber of terrors, short terrors. We quietly went in through the side gate. I didn’t want to disturb grandma.

It was very convenient when they volunteered, less of a hustle, less of a struggle. 

She followed my instructions, “Get naked, sit on the stool, cover your eyes with a soft cleaning rag, and don’t move”. I got an immediate erection, but I didn’t want to have sex with her. I just wanted to get my beautiful sharp machete and sliced her neck with it. 

It must be kind of nice to have your life disappear in an instant, without even the slightest warning. To have cut off all your connections, veins, nerves, muscles and all of your senses along with your goals and ambitions and your entire future to just cease to exist in a second, just like that. Some people believe that the moment you die you appear in front of God. If that's the case then, it’s not a bad deal.

Oblivious of my beautiful machete, her head fell to the floor. She didn’t suffer at all, both of us were happy. My orgasm lasted until I cut the last piece of her body. I loved blood, warm, red blood. I was the master of the universe in my butcher shop, surrounded with blood. 

The large glass windows in front of the shop had double blinds, horizontal inside the window frame and vertical blinds from floor to ceiling. Everything was sealed and secure. No one could peek from the outside. That was my world and my kingdom. I liked my new life.

Then, I felt a little remorseful because I forgot to ask what her name was. How could I be so disrespectful?


*****


I was getting good at flipping hamburgers by then. I’d bought a large barbecue grill, and I had a giant icebox full of soft drinks. My derelict friends in the park were showing me great appreciation and respect.

My heart jumped full of joy when I saw Sadie crossing the street to get hamburgers for her and Joy. She looked radiantly gorgeous. She sure was getting lovelier each passing day. I felt a little bad giving Joy and Sadie burgers with this kind of meat, but I couldn’t decline. I had no reason to decline.

That night, I served another feast for Grandma. The same dish I prepared with Leticia’s breasts, but this time they were C or D, or I don’t know what size, but they were bigger. Grandma had a big smile when I put her plate on the table, and then, with an inquiring look, she asked who they belonged to. I had anticipated her curiosity. At the center of the table I placed a round display tray, but instead of a cake it had the head of the girl with ‘no name’ inside. The tray was covered with a kitchen towel for a little surprise. 

Then we proceeded to enjoy our meal on our table for three.

When we finished, Grandma gave me a kiss and went to bed. After I cleaned the table I put the head in a big kettle on the stove to boil it, because I had planned to use the skull as a piggy bank. I thought I’d put it on the nightstand next to my bed. I started my savings with a hundred dollar bill.


*****


The decreasing level of shyness in my personality were due to recent changes in the way I carried my new life. Going out drinking, socializing with people in the AA group, and just plain and simple being around Joy.

I began up to open up to new trends in fashion and attitude; I even bought a pair of diamond ear studs and put one of them on my left ear. I figured if I didn’t like how it looked, I wouldn’t wear it. I gave the other one to Sadie for her birthday. Joy gave me a look of disapproval. I told Joy that it didn’t mean anything and that I didn’t know what to do with the extra one. 

Sadie was in seventh heaven and caught me by surprise when she kissed me on the lips in front of Joy. 

What happened with Leticia was happening again with Sadie. Her constant proximity was a superhuman temptation. 

When I was in High School, I fell in love many times, and with so many girls, I had many romances of unrequited love. I was sure they never knew I existed. I wrote poems I never delivered for my exaggerated fear of rejection. I wasn’t ugly, but I was always anticipating rejection. 

It was my entire fault, but the refusal or repudiation I felt provoked my mind to remain stuck in those years. That’s probably the reason I only had eyes for teenage girls.

I found that old saying, ‘you can’t have your cake and eat it too’ so simple and stupid, but at the same time, I thought it was profound and true. 

Sadie was my cake, I wanted to have her and eat her too. I wanted to protect her and to love her forever. She was vulnerable and innocent. I wished I never had the need to cause her harm. In my eyes she was perfect, but I was worried that if I got too close to her I could ruin her.

I wrote a poem for her, but later, I thought I would never give it to her because I believed it was a little too silly and that she could laugh at me, and that could bring tragic consequences.

One day, I sent Joy to the bank to deposit the weekly sales with the intention to have some time alone with Sadie.

“You look cool and handsome with your new earring, Angel,” Sadie said right after Joy left.

“Well, you look like an angel with yours, but you don’t need a thing to look like the most amazing creature in the world. Maybe I shouldn’t give you any compliments; after all, you’re too young for me.”

I remembered I said those same words to someone else before.

“Only one more year, and then I can do whatever I want. Joy says that you look at me behind my back ‘with lustful desires.’ I know all relationships start as friends. We can be friends for a while, and after that who knows.”

“Sadie, you’re talking like a ‘femme fatale’ and not like the seventeen-year-old innocent girl that you are.”

“Ha, I’m not a famine . . . whatever you said. I just want you to take me to the movies or someplace. And you know what? I might not be so innocent after all, last night I had a dream with you. Hmm, I woke up sweating.”

“You’re very lovely, Sadie from every angle. I think you’re great. I wish I was ten years younger, but I don’t wish you to be ten years older, you’re perfect now.”

“When you gave me the earring and I kissed you, Joy scolded me for an hour. She kept nagging and begging me not to get involved with you, but I know she loves me more than anything in the world. She protects me like a mother and I adore her, but I know that after a while she’ll leave us alone.” she said.

Then, I remembered the poem in my pocket and after hesitating for half a second I gave it to her. I turned away and began laboring on a large chunk of meat. Right after I gave it to her, I regretted it. I was a hundred percent sure it was so silly, I wanted it back, but it was too late. I swore I wouldn’t kill her if she threw the piece of paper in the trash. “Okay Sadie, just ignore it. I don’t want to kill you. Like it or not, don’t say a thing, please.” I thought.


Earthly Angel


Half my life was filled with emptiness
I kept floating in a dense fog
Empty space suspended in nothingness
Thus, we are the same age.
I feel I can touch you,
But you are light years away.
Galaxies, your freckles seem to me,
My soul, I could sacrifice
For a kiss from your Celestial lips
Your astral eyes, full of universal happiness
Fill my vacuous solitude.
Your cosmic blue eyes
Shame the ocean’s blue waters.
I want to transfuse your translucent love
Into my chaotic and confused heart.
I want to transform and translate a word:
Beautiful
Into what you really are:
Full of Beauty.



“Listen, I’m new at this, how do you tell your heart not to fall in love with a certain person? How do you tell he’s off limits? My heart has its own mind. And by the way, I’m not light years away. I’m next to you and you can love me if you want to. We don’t have to wait for anybody’s permission.” she said, with unexpected maturity after reading my inferior third-class poem.

Sadie looked even more beautiful with water in her eyes.

“I can only tell you one thing Sadie; if you know nothing about love, I know less. I only ask one thing of you, I beg you that if you start loving me never, never stop.”

"I can easily do that. And, oh, your poem is the most beautiful thing I have ever read, Angel."

A minute later Joy appeared at the front door and found us working. 

I spent all week trying to find an excuse to send Joy away for a few hours, but my mind went blank. Trips to the bank only gave me one hour. The opportunity emerged without premeditation. Somebody invited both of them to camp overnight at Pismo beach, and Sadie declined. 

I was experiencing a new sensation. 

When I was a teenager I kept creating scenarios, images, and conversations that never took place in real life. It was all inside my head, but this time, it was real. Sadie was looking at me out of the corner of her eye, with a soft and playful smile. It was real.

I had killed six persons in that room, my father, the thief, Ana Suarez, Leticia, Fredo and the hooker. Three of them I killed on the same stool Sadie was sitting on. I truly believed I had two different persons in me, otherwise, how could I fall in love with an innocent young girl and simultaneously be an insatiable cold murderer. 

Could I lead a normal life and be a serial killer at the same time? Could I be a sensitive man and a sadistic killer at the same time?

I could feel the tension in the atmosphere. I was sure Sadie could feel it too. I felt nervous anticipating the approaching moments, my body trembled inside. That's what I felt when I saw Leticia standing on the stool, but on that occasion, the ambient was purely sexual. This time the combination was perfect: innocent love and lustful desires.

I was aware that a prolonged courtship was unnecessary. It was the beginning and the culmination. The quiet flames were there before the fire started.

After we closed the store, we performed our cleaning chores silently. All excuses had expired; my Scandinavian/Amazon with her flaming reddish hair was approaching me. She looked ultra-sexy without trying to be. I didn’t know what part of me was more excited, my soul, my heart, my mind or . . .  

She was wearing a regular girlie white dress and a blue blouse. She could be in one of those Target fliers advertising teenage clothing. Even in those pages, she would stand out. Her lips looked soft and succulent; her skin was smooth and mild. 

When we kissed, we disappeared from this world. I grabbed her by the waist and lifted her to the stool. I removed her dress and underwear. I embraced her and buried my face in her curly red, pubic hair. Her lower lips were just as sweet. My tongue, like a fish, began to swim in the depths of her red sea. Her juices flowed like lava from a volcano. She raised one leg and wrapped it around my shoulder. Paradise couldn’t compare to this.

All roads were taken, all decisions, failures, and achievements from the day I was born until that day, absolutely everything I’ve done up to that point in my life had led to that moment. My life had just begun.

We spent all night in my room, the same room where I endured countless moments of profound bitterness and intense grief. But with that glorious night, I could erase all my accumulated pain.


Edmundo Barraza
Visalia, Ca. 02-06-2012




XI
LIMBO



At the break of dawn, we made love again. I thought that was the closest I’ve been to complete happiness. But my pessimism forced me to think that things could only go down from that point. I wanted to remain on that level for as long as I could. Maybe, I could alternate my ups and downs, without staying on the downside for a long time. I promised myself not to be the one responsible to ruin such happiness.

That morning we took grandma to church. My grandma looked proud, and I felt proud to be the cause of her pride. We could have taken the car, since Sadie got her temporary license to drive, but instead, we pushed grandma’s wheelchair.

I watched grandma taking communion, and it occurred to me that I've never seen her in the confessional. Her chair didn’t even fit there, how could she confess? Besides, she couldn’t talk. Maybe she prepares a list of her sins at home. I just wished she didn’t mix my sins with hers.

In any case, she took communion every Sunday. I was sure cannibalism was a mortal sin, especially if you owned a butcher shop. It wasn’t like you were stuck in the North Pole with a bunch of dead friends and nothing to eat. And let’s never forget that she was a witness and accomplice to several murders. I could still remember her facial gestures when she called Ana Suarez “puta”.

Probably her donations made her an automatic saint. I understood the reasons why I was a cold-hearted killer. But grandma didn't have any excuses. She never ‘pulled the trigger’, but she was a little perverse too. 

When I went to church, I was as mute as grandma. I had nothing to say, nothing to ask for, or nothing to offer. I wasn’t looking for redemption or absolution. I was guilty and I knew my place wasn’t in heaven or even in that little church. Give me my punishment and send me to hell. 

The first thirteen years of my life weren’t so bad, but then, I suffered continuously for twenty years. If I could enjoy the next twenty years, we could call it even. In any case, I loved grandma, and I knew we’d continue to be together, even after we die.

On our way out, grandma made us stop at the statue of the Virgin Mary, she attached some silver Milagros to the hem of the Virgin’s velvet dress. I couldn’t think of anything she wanted in return. Maybe, more fancy food on the dinner table.

My grandma was eighty-one years old; she was born in 1930. She’s been my protector and my friend all my life. She had sheltered me in her arms in my times of despair and devastation, which have been many. I was six years old when my mom died, and my grandma took over since then. In my times of need, she always came to my rescue. She knew the story of my life, she knew why I turned out the way I was.

I was so concentrated on my own survival that I didn’t know very much about her life.

Before we retired to our rooms, I asked her to tell me about her life and after a short pause she sighed and replied with her silent lips: “Mañana”. 

In the morning, she gave me an envelope. Inside, was a letter written by her.



My story



My mom died the day I met your grandpa.

The day I met your grandpa it was a sad day. We used to live in El Pueblito, a tiny little town outside Jerez, Zacatecas. 

I remember every day was a beautiful day in that little town. I was eighteen years old. I was crossing the road holding hands with my mom. We were on our way to the market. It had been raining for two days; the wet dirt roads had sporadic puddles. We were laughing and jumping, trying not to get our shoes wet. 

Then, suddenly my mom disappeared from my hands. Poof! She just vanished. 

Like a bat out of hell, a horse galloping at full speed had taken my mom out of my hands. It all happened in a fraction of a second. Then, when I took hold of my confusion, I saw my mom several yards up ahead on the road, lying face down in a puddle of water. I ran to her, and when I turned her over, I knew she was dead. Then, a man in muddy clothing and out of breath arrived at our side, saying that he was riding that horse and had thrown him from his mount. I kept crying disconsolately in the middle of the muddy road with my mom on my lap, and then I heard a shot, the man had just killed his horse. 

A couple of days later, after the funeral, and even though it had been an accident, the man showed up with five cows and offered them to my dad for the pain he had caused. My dad accepted them. They kept talking until dark. 

The following day he appeared with ten more cows. A week later, with my dad’s blessings, (orders?) I married that man. I had no saying in my dad’s decision. 

When I said, “I do” my heart was still full of sorrow and pain for the loss of my mom. A funeral and a wedding took place almost simultaneously, with no time for a prayer or a honeymoon, no time for tears or celebrations.

That man lived in California and had come to look for a wife and he found me. He was thirty-six years old, the year was 1948.

Even then, your grandpa calculated everything in cows. To him, I was worth ten cows.

I could have refused the proposal and accepted the consequences of my rebellion, but with my mom gone I couldn’t stay, besides your grandpa was handsome, tall and imposing. He seemed like a good man. “A good specimen” they used to say. 

My dad lost a wife and a daughter but gained fifteen cows. I lost my mom, but I gained a husband. My mom lost her life and everything else. I lost my mom because your grandpa couldn’t ride horses. (He never rode horses again) Those times were in another century, another world. I was uprooted merciless from my simple and uncomplicated life. I felt the aftershocks for decades. For many years, I felt out of place.

But I learned to love your grandpa. He was a hard, untamed man, an utterly stern, old fashion man. He was just like the desert.

More than forty years later, I was happy for him when he decided to retire to the same world where he had met me. He had worked hard all his life; he deserved it, but I guess God disagreed.

I still think your dad killed him.

Sandra Cortez Lomelí.


The manuscript was written in Spanish, the writing seemed like drawings, elegant and adorned. It must have taken her all night to write it. A beautiful, sad story which could have remained untold had not been for my curiosity.



Edmundo Barraza
Visalia, CA. Nov-27-2012




XII
Meet my dysfunctional brain.



I made an appointment with a psychiatrist. Maybe she can fix my mental disarray and the anarchy I carry in my brain. I did it because I see a remote possibility to have a normal life. Sadie opened the door to that possibility. She’s half my age, but like I said in my poem the first half of my life doesn’t count. I was absent from this world because of my stupid shyness.

Still, I had to give myself an opportunity to clean up my act. I was in a vicious circle and I never realized how it all started, if my shyness caused an inferiority complex or if it was my dad with his absurd assumptions that I was gay.

Priests and psychiatrists have the same objective: they help you to control or to manage your fears and wrongdoings.

If I wanted to be exonerated from my sins or if I wanted to get rid of my repulsive thoughts I needed to appeal to a priest. The last time I had a confession I was thirteen years old when my father and grandfather forced me to become an adult and my childhood disappeared. There wasn’t a transitional period, just a drastic traumatic change. That’s when I lost my innocence and my faith.

But I couldn’t be sincere without restrictions. How could I confess my sins and crimes without expecting any kind of punishment?

Even if I knew they wouldn’t denounce me to the authorities I couldn’t dare to expose my homicidal record. Deep in my mind, I wanted to have a clean soul. If I could erase my past I’d feel so much better.

I chose a female psychiatrist. I thought a woman might be less aggressive and more patient than a male psychiatrist. 

When she asked me to explain the reasons I was there. I told her about my irrational thoughts, but mostly about my dad and the way he raised me. 

The entire first session was dedicated to telling her about my life since I was a kid. She let me talk for an hour.

At some point, I felt ridiculous. I thought nobody could help me but me. I knew there what something wrong with me. I knew that all I had to do was to stop killing people. But there I was, thinking about ways to kill my shrink. Going behind her chair, removing my belt and strangle her, or hitting her in the head with the over-sized crystal ashtray she had on her desk.  

Instead, I decided to give her a chance. If she succeeded with her treatment, she would live. If she didn’t, well, the heavy ashtray will always be there available on her desk. Her life was in her hands but she didn’t know it.

She was in her forties and she looked very professional and elegant. She looked very smart too. I've never seen women like her in my butcher shop or in my AA meetings.

The reason I was there, was that I wanted to get rid of the absurd feeling I had . . .  that I could kill anybody. I just wanted to be a normal person. 


*****


I took Sadie to the Sequoia Park. We were on the same bridge where my dad pushed grandpa. Sadie and I were lying down on our backs with our feet hanging from the bridge. 

“I read somewhere that God hides behind the clouds when he's ashamed to see some of the things we do, but I think he hides because he is unable to help us. If he sees us killing each other, why doesn’t he intervene? He’s been watching endless wars, catastrophes, and injustices for centuries but he never intervenes. It seems He doesn’t care, what do you think, Sadie?”

“All that you’re saying makes sense. But maybe, he does intervene and ends each war we start, but we continue creating new ones. Or maybe he's just taking a nap," she said.

“Or maybe we're just puppets, and he’s just pulling our strings?”

“I don’t know Angel, but I think he did at least one thing right, he brought us together.”

When she finished that sentence, I felt supremely happy. It was great having her next to me in the same spot where I had the worst moment of my life. 

“I told Joy about us. She was a little upset, but in the end, she accepted it. I’m glad she did because I didn’t know what I would have done if she had opposed to it. I love her so much. She’s like a mother to me. Did she tell you somebody raped her?”

“Yes, she did.”

“I remember my dad went to pick me up at school that day. My mom was at work. When we returned, we heard noises coming from Joy’s bedroom. My dad grabbed a big knife from the kitchen. When he opened the bedroom door, we found a guy with his pants down on top of Joy. He had her mouth covered with his hand. Dad stabbed the man on his back. The knife disappeared in his body. Only the handle was visible. I’ve never seen so much blood in my life, not even at the butcher shop. For a moment I thought Joy was dead too. She had so much blood on her. After dad pushed the man to the floor, we noticed a puncture on Joy's chest. The knife went through the entire man’s body and reached Joy's body too. If the man had been a little skinnier, my dad would have killed them both.”

Of course, I’ve seen that scar between her boobs. When I asked Joy about it, she didn’t answer and changed the subject.

"The police interrogated dad, and they said he was innocent but kept him there for two years anyway. Joy remained in shock and couldn’t talk for several days. Two months after Joy was raped, my mom moved to California with her new boyfriend. She left us when we needed her the most. After mom left, Joy quit school and started to work. She was sixteen years old and I was twelve.”

I thought my life had been hard. What a fool.

The story broke my heart and I felt compelled to tell her about the events that happened on that bridge. I told her about my grandpa's plan to retire to Mexico, to the place where he met grandma. I told her about the time when my grandma's mom disappeared from her hand. And I told her about the way my grandpa died.

Sharing of our stories brought us even closer. Sadie learned that day to love my grandma even more. Sometime later, before grandma's death, she gave all her jewelry to Sadie, all her letters and memories too. 


*****


My shrink started each session with a question and then I talked for an hour. It was a good therapy. I didn't mind being judged or criticized. There was so much to tell, even if I didn't include the crimes. 

“Of all the movies you’ve seen, who’s your favorite villain?” My psychiatrist asked.

I loved that question. Right away I thought about all those miserable moments I had spent hiding in my room. The only thing that could help me deal with my vulnerable mind was to watch movies. And almost all the villains in all the movies I’ve seen were my heroes too. I was always on their side.

“Without a doubt, Nurse Ratched,” I replied. 

“Wow, what a choice, she was so mean and cruel. And what about your favorite heroes?” she asked.

To me, superheroes were super false. Superman, Iron Man and Spider-Man never came to my rescue. In that case, my only superhero would be Grandma. My grandma had been a real hero. Just like my dad had been a supervillain, even worse than Nurse Ratched. Now that I think about it, my dad was the only villain I hated.

“Wait, I have more favorite villains, I also like Hannibal Lecter. I love cannibals.” I said.

“You do?”

“I mean, I love stories about cannibals, zombies, vampires, and all those bloodsuckers.”

I had control myself; she was making me talk too much, and about things, I shouldn’t talk about. I almost forgot that this is not a conversation. She is analyzing me, getting information to make me sane.

“So, what about your heroes, who are they?” she asked.

“I don't like heroes; I always wanted the villains to win. I’m always on the loser’s side. That’s why my favorite movies are One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and Silence of the Lambs. The villains win in those movies. I don’t like heroes. I hate them.” 

“What would you like to be, a hero or a villain?” 

“A villain of course.”

I knew I fell in her trap, but I didn’t care.


Edmundo Barraza
Visalia, CA. 12-05-2012



XIII
FATHER FIDEL



After I got rid of my father my ego got a huge boost. I felt suffocated by his mere presence. I just couldn't be happy or have any hopes. His disappearance gave me freedom and power.

I wish he'd been more supportive and less critical. On the surface, he seemed harmless, but his attacks were steady and relentless. I tried to ignore him and let him know he was wrong, but all was in vain. 

I don’t know if God exists, but most of the time I tend to believe he doesn’t. When I was a good person, life was miserable, but after I committed the first murder things started to turn around. As the murders increased so did my happiness. 

God's been doing it backward. When I was naive and vulnerable he ignored me all the time and when I became a mean, heartless killer I began to get rewarded. Hell must be the obvious punishment I deserve. But for a psychopath like me, hell could be a reward.


*****


Joy came out with great news this morning.

“Hey boys, Pablo asked me to marry him, I told him to give me a few days for my answer, what do you think?”

“Why didn’t you say yes, right away?” Sadie asked.

“Yeah Joy, what’s wrong with you? I like the guy, he seems to be madly in love with you.” I said before she could answer Sadie.

"I don’t know, I love him too, but I have some doubts. He's not legal in the country. If we marry he’ll become an American citizen. I'm not sure what he's after, me or a green card."

“How can you say you love him and still doubt his motives?” Sadie said.

“Sadie’s right Joy, I don’t think Pablo is capable of doing such a rotten thing. You're so smart and beautiful, he adores you." I said.

"Yeah, I think you're right. I'm smart and beautiful." Joy replied with a smile.


*****


The last time I joined grandma to church after mass was over, Father Fidel hurried down the steps from the altar to push grandma’s wheelchair, and the following day Father Fidel was our first customer.

He must be in his early forties; he's short, a little on the chubby side and with receding hairline. He rarely smiles. When he approached the register, I told the girls not to accept his money. “It’s on the house,” I said.

After he left, Sadie began to tell us a little about Father Fidel.

“You know, he just came back from Rome, he went to the Vatican. He spent two weeks there. He even showed grandma and me a picture of him with the Pope. And you know who paid for the trip? Yeah, that’s right, grandma.” 

I had no idea about that, but somehow it didn’t come as a surprise. Later, I found out grandma had made a church donation or personal contribution of six thousand dollars for that trip. That didn’t bother me too much, all the properties and possessions we have, belong to both of us. 

I immediately decided to put a stop to all those absurd donations.

“Do you know what else I heard? That he is abusing some of the kids in the choir. So far, I’ve heard two different stories from two different kids. And now, Father Fidel is trying to convince grandma to give a larger donation to build a boy’s club behind the church.”

“Are you sure about this, Sadie? These are serious accusations.” Joy asked.

“Nobody’s accusing anybody; I said 'I heard', these might be just rumors, but what would these kids gain by spreading false accusations? I know they’re afraid to tell their parents, they think that no adults would believe in them. They know I’m not an adult that’s why they trust me.” Sadie responded.

“I’m glad you’re telling us about all this. I’ll talk to grandma before she makes us file for bankruptcy. It would be good to give some small donations to the church if they did something good with the money, but I’ve never seen the priests feeding the homeless.” 

“I agree with you Angel, you should tell your grandma about that pervert and his sinister plans to have dozens of kids at his disposition. Do you think we should alert the police?” Joy asked.

I was about to call Father Fidel a ‘pedophile’, then I remembered about the relationship I have with Sadie. I know I’m committing a crime that makes me a pedophile, even if the sex is consensual. For that reason, I’ll restrain myself from saying that word.

“We should wait until we confirm he’s abusing those kids. That’s a serious crime. There have been dozens of cases like that in California; most of the time the church just relocates them to different dioceses, but that doesn’t solve the problem. I think priests are just like policemen, they protect each other to cover up their misdeeds. It'd be good if we see a pedophile priest put in jail for a change.” Damn, the word escaped my mouth. I was trying not to say “pedophile” and I still said it.

My carelessness didn’t go unnoticed by Joy’s shrewd mind because she followed my comment with this: “Excuse me, Angel, since when are you allowed to judge pedophiles?”

Immediately, my instinctive and involuntary reflex was to show her my middle finger, well, my half middle finger. And all three of us ended the conversation with a friendly laugh.

Even though I was thirty-four and Sadie seventeen I've never considered myself a pedophile for several reasons. First, because she loved me and sex was consensual. I wasn't causing any harm to her, physically or mentally. But in the eyes of society, I was legally a pedophile. And she wasn't my first victim. 

In the end, we agreed that Sadie was going to talk to those kids. If possible she would bring them to tell us their stories.

That night, during dinner I told grandma to put on hold all future donations to the church, and that all checks would need her signature and mine. I was glad she accepted.

A few days later Sadie convinced one of the kids to come and talk to us.

His name was Pedro, he was thirteen, his family had been in Visalia for three years. They came from Mexico. He never told his parents about the abuse because he was afraid they would punish him. He said he knew another boy who had been abused too, but his family had moved to another town to avoid further contact between their son and the priest. When I asked him if he thought there were more kids being abused, he nodded immediately. He also said that Father Fidel had a special room to punish the kids in the choir and that the punishment and the rewards were the same: sexual abuse. 

There was no doubt in my mind he was telling the truth. 

Before he went away I spoke to him in Spanish and told him we would never tell his parents about it, but I recommended him to tell them himself. I also promised him that all this abuse was going to end immediately and that Father Fidel was going to disappear forever very soon.


*****


Of course, grandma didn’t say anything when I gave her all that information. She just kept tightening her fists on the armrests of her wheelchair. I explained everything I had found out about Father Fidel, the same priest that, until that moment she considered a saint.

Father Fidel was proudly beaming when I invited him to join us for dinner the following Friday. He probably thought we were going to announce the acceptance of his petition, which was thirty thousand dollars to build a boy’s club or a pedophile’s paradise. If he knew what was about to happen, he’d rather accept an invitation to hell.

Next day, I went to the bank and withdrew thirty thousand dollars in cash. Just in case something went wrong and I needed an excuse or alibi.

On Friday, when Father Fidel arrived at our house, he extended his arm, maybe expecting me to kiss his hand or his ring, but all I felt for him was a total aversion. To his clear disappointment, I barely touched his hand. I had noticed how grandma greeted him with reverence. I thought it was very antiquated and ridiculous. That’s probably why some Catholic priests were so arrogant. My grandma kissed his hand anyway. Old habits die hard.

When he entered our house, I knew he wasn’t coming out alive.

I was a monster, there’s no doubt about it and my father was a monster too, but this priest was worse than both of us. He was abusing children and he was depriving them of a normal future. 

Their mental health would be affected for the rest of their lives; this guy was worse than my dad. At least my dad never touched me. I couldn’t believe guys like this could represent God. What can be worse than that? This time my actions will be justified. I’ll be a hero and a villain at the same time. 

Grandma gave me a couple of Valium pills to sedate Father Fidel. I didn’t want him to be unconscious, but at the same time, I didn’t want to have a difficult time controlling him. I offered him something to drink, he preferred brandy over tequila. 

At the kitchen table, he kept exalting his “humble” idea to build a great place for his boys.

He said: “I love my boys, I need to keep them away from drugs and gangs. They’ll be busy and won’t have time for impure thoughts,” 

The only part I believed was: "I love my boys."

The unsuspecting priest had a few shots of brandy and sat at the table expecting a feast on his honor.

Before he continued with his hypocrite speech, I grabbed him by the neck and dragged him to the butcher shop. He didn’t even get a chance to react; he was a little drunk, sedated and disoriented. He didn’t fight back; he was more confused than obedient. He couldn’t even defend himself verbally. 

I whispered in his ear: "We know you're a pedophile, we know you've been abusing some kids in the choir. Instead of reporting you to the police, I'll take the law into my hands. If God didn't intervene to save those kids, he won't intervene to help you either." then he looked at grandma, imploring for an intervention.

I used a roll of duct tape to tie him up. With his mouth gagged, he sat in shame on the floor. He looked a world apart from how he proudly appeared in the pulpit.
Then I heard someone knocking on the door.



Edmundo Barraza
Lancaster, Ca. Apr-7-2014




XIV
DIVINE PUNISHMENT



I froze and hesitated to open the door. Grandma was behind me. The shop had been closed for three hours. Father Fidel opened his eyes wide, probably expecting a salvation. Nervously, I opened the door slowly inch by inch. Pedro was on the other side. How could this be possible? I sent him to the house front door around the corner.

“What are you doing here, Pedro?”

“What happened with Father Fidel? I know he’s here; I saw him entering your house. I was following him.” he said, ignoring my question.

“Why were you following him?”

“I want my revenge," he said angrily, appearing older than a thirteen-year-old boy “my older brother’s with me, and he’s going to help me get even.” he continued.

I wondered how many more kids wanted their revenge.

I had a tough dilemma, but I couldn’t back out of the original plan. Father Fidel will never see the sun again. But now, I was forced to include Pedro and his brother in my plans. They knew he was here, I had to let them in. I couldn’t turn them down, besides, I was curious about what they had in mind.

“Okay Pedro, I told you Father Fidel was going to disappear very soon . . ."

“Yes, but I want my revenge first,” he interrupted me, and added, “You have to let me do it, that’s why I brought my brother.” 
 
Pedro turned around and quietly called his brother. Appearing out of the dark, he had a knife in his right hand, his arm firmly tight against his right leg. I let them in, I had no other option. I told them how the priest had been deceiving grandma and that she knew he was a pedophile. “Follow me,” I said. 

We all went to the butcher shop in a single line. I was pushing grandma's wheelchair, the brothers walked behind me. Like executioners heading for the gallows to meet a condemned criminal. It must have looked like a scene from the Spanish Inquisition.

I felt overexcited with the turn of events. Three generations, a seventy-year gap between the youngest and the oldest, very odd indeed.

We found the priest lying on the floor near the front entrance. He was ready to kick the door to call for attention. He had rolled over the entire length of the shop. He had to know his end was near when he saw Pedro and his brother with a knife in hand. I dragged him back and sat him on the floor, against the walk-in refrigerator.

Pedro was the first to confront him. “Pinche Padre joto!” (“Fucking homo priest!”) He said as he slapped him on the face. I wondered why Pedro didn't confront the priest that way when he first tried to take advantage of him. But then, I realized that I had been in the same situation with my father, and I didn't confront him until he was dead.

Perhaps, seeing how weak Pedro had slapped Father Fidel, his brother approached the priest and hit him with a solid blow. There was no doubt; the real punishment had begun.

I thought about removing the gag from his mouth to hear his defense, but he had no excuses, nothing could save him. He couldn't expect paradise after committing such atrocities. He looked pathetic. No one could have pity on him knowing the true story, not even his mother.

“Why did you do that to me? I didn’t do anything wrong; my mom only wanted me to be an altar boy, she even thought I could be a priest like you.” Pedro said with tears in his eyes. 

Father Fidel had tears in his eyes too, but his tears were of fear and desperation not of pain or repentance.

I took Pedro’s brother aside and asked him what they had in mind. He said he didn’t know yet, but he suspected that his brother wanted him to do the same things Father Fidel did to Pedro.

“Okay, I’ll give you an hour to get Pedro’s revenge, but don’t kill him and don’t say a word to anybody about what we’re doing here,” I said, as I pushed grandma to her room.

His name was Abel; he was nineteen years old, and he didn’t speak English. He was sixteen years old when they arrived in the US. He had been working in the fields with his dad since then. He didn’t have time to go to school to learn English or anything else. Pedro had told him all about it just this morning. They had been following Father Fidel all day long. They were waiting for him to come out of the house.

When I went back, the priest was lying naked on the floor. The brothers were done, things were even now. Could they ever be?

Abel and Pedro shook my hand on their way out. Pedro didn’t look like a kid anymore. I guess a horrible experience such as that could turn a young kid into a bitter man in a short time. He would look at the world in a different way, he would be more cautious. His innocence gone.

The priest was unconscious, he was bleeding from his genitalia, his penis was gone. I couldn't avoid comparing this image to his smiling face on the picture with the Pope. What a ridiculous contrast.

I still felt enormous hatred for him. I decided to work on him while he was still alive. As he lied on the floor I put a butcher’s block under his right hand and proceeded to cut it off with my machete. The priest regained consciousness, he sat up and lifted his right arm. Seeing no hand attached to it he fainted again. Then, I severed his head. 

Later, while dismembering his body, I smiled when I found his missing organ inside his anus. My guess was that they had pushed his dick up his ass with a stick or something like that. I confirmed my suspicions when I saw the toilet plunger near his body.

Many people will miss him, probably a reward would be offered by the Church or the local government. But the church choir will be singing with genuine happiness.

In the morning grandma gave me a note, “He’ll be missed and they’ll organize a massive search. He might have been a monster, a child molester, but nobody knew about it. Everybody loved him; he was very popular too. We need to be extremely careful.” 

She had a good reason to be worried.

The disappearance of a priest was not the same as a missing runaway teen or a homeless thief.

It could have been possible somebody knew where he was going, maybe, somebody saw him coming to our house. But there were no traces of him in the butcher shop. I spent a lot of time cleaning in detail with industrial chemicals and all kinds of cleaning materials to make sure there was no evidence left of him. He was in the house; we invited him to dinner, he came, he ate, and he left. He had a little to drink, but he wasn’t drunk, and then, he took off. 

I told grandma not to worry too much. But I was worried a little.

On Saturday, as I carried the sinful grounded flesh to the park, I was thinking I should have taken it to church to have it blessed with holy water first.

That time grandma and I refused to participate in our cannibalistic ritual. There were many things about Father Fidel that we didn’t like. He was worse than a 'normal' rapist; his victims were innocent children. In my opinion, he was a hundred times worse than me.

After a couple of days, Father Fidel was on the news. They were announcing his disappearance. 



Edmundo Barraza
Lancaster, Ca. 08-22-2014




XV
IN A DESCENDING CYCLE




Instead of waiting for the police to come to the house asking questions about Father Fidel I decided to go and talk to them. I had to assume their investigation would lead them to my house anyway.

I told them he was one of my grandma’s best friends. I mentioned about the donations grandma had provided to the church. I had bank receipts and cashier's check copies. I told them about the thirty thousand dollars in cash he had asked for to build his boy’s club. I said we gave him the money when we invited him to dinner last Friday. 

I didn’t mention he was a pedophile. They would discover that during the investigation. I never talked about him in the past tense, that could give the impression that I knew he was dead already. I referred to him as if he was alive and he’d show up any minute. And I told them another lie, that he had mentioned a general contractor from the L.A. area he might hire. Grandma supported my story.

The money was still in the house, and I didn’t know what to do with it. I thought I could make small deposits at a time and return it all to the bank. But for the moment I was stuck with that cash. 

I told the same story to Joy and Sadie. Either they believed it or were troubled with the possibility that I got rid of him. In any case, they didn’t say a word after I presented my 'true' facts.

The church offered fifteen thousand dollars reward for any information leading to his whereabouts, and the City of Visalia put up another fifteen thousand dollars for a total of thirty thousand dollars. The same amount Father Fidel had at the moment of his disappearance, ha!

That entire week Father Fidel was on the front page of the local newspaper.

A few days later, the police found Father Fidel’s ring in a pawn shop. A homeless person had pawned it, and he claimed it had appeared in his hamburger. They didn’t believe him and put him in jail. Since the cops had a suspect in custody, news of the priest went to the second page and things settled down a bit for a while.


*****


My shrink was forty years old, her name's Jennifer. She wore her dresses with elegance and style, the smell of her perfume was discrete and subtle. A classy lady, and smart too.

I called her office to make an appointment, but since we were interrupted in our prior meeting by another client, I decided to always have the last appointment. 

I didn’t know if the treatments were effective, but I enjoyed our meetings. We talked about depressing things, phobias, obsessions, disorders, and other mental dysfunctions.
With the exception of all my crimes, I exposed all my hidden secrets within my soul in our conversations, including all mental abuses my dad made me suffer.

It felt weird knowing nothing about her, while she was an expert on my mental state. Often, I would regret having talked so much afterward. 

Perhaps, I shouldn’t call our discussions “conversations” since I was the only one exposing my soul in the process.

"I've noticed some improvements in you Angel. You're not so shy anymore, and you don't complain so much about your father . . ." 

“I'll never stop complaining about my father. But you're right, I feel like another person now."   

Having turned into a killer to become a normal person must sound ridiculous, but killing my father was the best thing I've done in my whole life. That was the turning point for me.

“What would you do if your dad reappeared in your life?”

"I would kill him again." my mind immediately replied, but instead, I said, “I could never allow reliving the same situation, I would rather die.”

I felt insane, because I knew he’d never come back, and still, I sincerely imagined he could. Deep in my mind, I was sure I would kill him again.

“Do you consider yourself a violent person?” she asked. 

“I know I could defend myself if the situation arises,” I replied.

“What I mean to ask is if you think you’re capable of killing somebody” 

I felt cornered. All of a sudden I thought she knew all about me, but I tried to keep my cool.

“I think I could be, but only to defend the three persons I love the most in the world, my grandma, Sadie and myself.”

I didn’t have to be sincere with my response. I knew I killed Fredo and the prostitute without a reason, but things had changed. I wouldn’t kill anybody without a motive anymore.

“How old is your girlfriend, Angel?”

“Old enough.”

“How old, Angel?”

“She’s nineteen. Why?” I lied again.

“I saw you with her a few days ago. She was pushing your grandma’s wheelchair. She seems to be sixteen or seventeen years old.”

“I said she’s old enough. Can we change the subject now?”

“I’m sure you know that having sex with an underage girl is a grave crime. It’s a felony, and you could go to jail. I’m here to give you advice, and that’s what I’m doing.”

“It feels like you’re conducting an investigation, this is not a conversation, it’s more like an interrogation.”

“I’m sorry if you feel that way, Angel. But my obligation is to help you in any way I can. And for that, I need your collaboration.”

“Okay.”

“Did you read the newspaper today, Angel? There's an article about some people that have disappeared near the Oval Park, right around the area where you live. I’m sure you know about it, having contact with so many customers in your butcher shop,” then, she grabbed a newspaper from her desk, and continued. 

“The list includes an old lady named Ana Suarez, a sixteen-year-old girl named Leticia Gomez, Alfredo Lugo, whom they believe was gay, and of course Father Fidel. Should your dad be considered on the list, Angel?”

My face turned hot and red. I began to sweat like a pig. I’ve never been good at faking or hiding my feelings. I wanted to run to my room and hide under my bed. I was convinced that my attitude was revealing my guilt. 

“Of course, I’ve heard about all those people. In a meat market you hear about all kinds of stories, but if you’re implying that I have anything to do with the disappearance of those people, you’re wrong. It seems that you are accusing me of those murders and that’s completely unjustified and unfair too.”

“I never said anything about murders. Do you think they were killed? Because the authorities are investigating disappearances, not murders. They’re missing persons, if they’re dead, they haven’t found their bodies.”

“I don’t know if they were killed and I don’t care at all. I didn’t even know any of them.” I was feeling trapped. I couldn’t compete with an expert, especially if she was right.

“Well, Ana Suarez was your neighbor, she lived all her life behind your house and Leticia worked in the butcher shop. You’re contradicting yourself, there’s no need to be nervous. Oh, and another thing, the homeless person who claimed to have found Father Fidel’s ring in a hamburger, didn’t you serve those hamburgers to the poor people in the park? And weren’t you the last person to see Father Fidel alive? I believe he was in your house the night he disappeared.”

“Apparently you’ve been following this case very closely, but everything you mentioned is public knowledge. Ana Suarez next to our house. We never saw her, she was a recluse. Leticia worked for me for a few weeks, but then, she went to Hollywood to look for fame and fortune, she said. It feels like you’re accusing me and that hurts deeply.”

“I've collected parts of this information during our conversations. You've mentioned some details concerning these people. My obligation as a psychiatrist is to take care of your mental health. Part of the treatment requires questioning your social behavior. I need to get inside your mind to be able to help you better. About those missing persons, they’re just that, missing. If they don’t find the bodies, there’s no crime to follow. And If you know anything about those people, you should talk to the police. My intention is to help you not to hurt you.”

I felt relieved when we were interrupted by her secretary to let us know she was leaving. I seized the intrusion to excuse myself too. I was exhausted. That session was pure torture.


*****


Sadie had never stayed in my room overnight, maybe, out of respect for Joy and Grandma, but we used to make love several times a week.

She’s been my savior. She's the main reasons my sanity is under control. I don’t know what I would do without her. 

The day after my shrink shook me and crushed me without mercy, Sadie also came out with some shocking surprises. After we closed the shop she said that we needed to talk.
She said Joy had accepted her boyfriend's marriage proposal and that they had plans to move to L.A.

“Joy wants me to go with them; she insists I must go to college. And I think she’s right,” she said.

“No, she’s not right, you belong here with me. L.A. is three hours away from here and if you go away, I’ll lose you forever. Why don't we get married? My life would be meaningless without you.”

“No Angel, I wouldn’t know what to do if I was married, besides, I really want to go to college. I can come and visit you every month, and you can visit me too.”

“No Sadie that would never work. I know that if you leave, I’ll lose you forever. If you leave, you’ll change for sure and forget about me. Long distance love could never last; besides, you’ll meet a bunch of guys your age. Please don’t leave Sadie, I beg you.”

“I don’t know Angel, I love you very much and it breaks my heart to leave you, but I can’t be without Joy in my life. Joy is like a mother to me. It’s a tough decision, but I’ve made up my mind already. You’ve been an angel to us. We will always be grateful to you. It won’t be easy to say goodbye to grandma either especially since I won’t be able to call her on the phone. I’m really sorry Angel. We can visit each other as much as we can, let’s not consider this the end.” 

“You’re killing me, Sadie, you really are.”

She had finalized our relationship and it seemed that she had ended my life too. I felt a desolated emptiness inside my body. I felt numb and dizzy. 

But she wasn’t done with the bad news.

“There are a few more things I need to tell you, Angel. Joy and I believe you killed Father Fidel. He was a real monster, but as bad as he was, there was no need to kill him. I don’t need to know whether you did it or not. People suspect you have something to do with the recent persons that have disappeared in the area. They also say you were involved with Leticia, the young girl that used to work in the shop. They say she disappeared the night you went with her on a date. They also mentioned a hooker and a thief that used to hang in the park.”

“But that’s absurd Sadie if they disappeared, that doesn’t mean they were killed, they never found the bodies. If there’s no body, there’s no crime to follow.”

“That’s the other thing, Angel. They believe you’ve been feeding them with human flesh, especially since they found Father Fidel’s ring in a hamburger. Things are about to explode Angel.”

“Is that the real reason you’re leaving then? Tell me, Sadie, you really believe in those rumors?”

At that moment, I knew I had lost her. I felt she was a million miles away from me. I wouldn’t dare to cause any harm to her, she was the love of my life. The only love I will ever have. But her love had disappeared too. I knew God would never allow guys like me to be happy.

“No Angel, the reason I’m leaving is to be with Joy and to go to college. I never forgot about that promise I made after our mom left. I will always love you and that’s a promise too.”

Then, I asked her to spend the night with me and she gladly agreed.

We both knew that that night would be our last night together. That night, we made love and we cried, and we made love and we cried again. 

Sometimes simultaneously.


Edmundo Barraza
Visalia, Ca.



XVI
ANGEL'S INFERNO



Sometimes, maybe to justify the extreme hatred I felt towards my dad, I used to make a mental list of the most humiliating moments I had to endure from comments made by him. The reason I did that was to convince myself that I had good reasons to get rid of him and I shouldn’t consider myself a monster. 

I even contemplated suicide just before I killed my dad the night he pushed me to the limit. But technically, I didn't kill him, he froze to death. When I cut him to pieces, he was already dead. I’d rather say, 'I got rid of him'. In any case, that list was to remind myself how much I should hate him and to feel less guilty about it.

A few days after grandpa's death, dad, grandma and I were having dinner and for a reason, I don’t remember, I mentioned how much I missed grandpa. The other two persons on the table had very different reactions. I saw a single teardrop falling on my grandma’s face, it made me choke. Across the table, my dad growled pitifully. 

“Bah, he’s dead, there’s nothing you can do. What you should do is go out and find a girl, or else I cut off your balls! And remember, that dick of yours should only be used on girls.”

My dad had no consideration of grandma’s feelings either. I felt especially bad for her. She had waited all day to be with us, to have at least a moment of distraction. She had a lot of respect for her husband. And yet, my father was dismissing grandma’s husband, despising my grandfather, and rejecting his own father.

And of course, I felt bad for myself. Grandma was proud of me; she had proven year after year how much she loved me. I knew she shared my suffering and I also knew that her inability to express her feelings was terribly frustrating.

I hated dad, but my hatred was justified. On top of all cruelty he made me suffer, he killed my grandfather and my mother too. He robbed me. Things could have been so different if I had had a mother.


*****


In the morning, Pedro and Abel came to tell me that some detectives were asking questions about people that had disappeared in the area. The brothers believed I was their main suspect. Things were getting hot. I asked them if they could get me a gun, Abel said that he could, but he needed some money. 

The money for Father Fidel’s boy's club was going to end up in good hands after all. I told them to give the money to their dad to buy a house with it. 

Two hours later, Abel came back with a gun. Before he left, he asked me if they were also in trouble. I assured him they didn’t have anything to worry about. He shook my hand and wished me good luck.

Unaware of my dealings with the brothers, Joy and Sadie kept working quietly, but with certain apprehensiveness. I’m sure they also felt the approaching storm.

“I’m worried about you, Angel, what are you going to do? Sooner or later, the cops will knock on the door, and they’ll take you away forever.” Sadie said with resignation, not even caring anymore that Joy was present.

“I don’t know Sadie; I don’t want to spend the rest of my days in jail. I’m not afraid of anything, except going to prison. I’ll wait until it blows up, but I won’t surrender, that’s for sure. Nothing matters to me anymore. You were the most important thing in my life, and I know I lost you already. The happiness you gave me was worth a lifetime. Don’t feel bad, just be happy.”


It appeared that losing Sadie had little importance to me, but it wasn’t indifference, it was acceptance. There was no reason to fight, I couldn’t rearrange my fate. I felt defeated.

“Why don’t you run away to Mexico? You speak Spanish, you have money,” Joy said.

“No,” I replied.

I was worried about grandma. I knew she couldn't live without me by her side. And that made me very sad.

It was just a matter of time before my arrest. The gun would be my inseparable friend from that point on.

Sadie stayed with me that night too. I couldn’t sleep, I was thinking about a murder-suicide situation, but only for a second. Sadie didn’t deserve such a selfish and cowardly act on my part. I couldn’t live without her but I knew she could easily live without me. I hated myself for having such an evil thought. Her life didn't belong to me. Watching her beautiful face made me feel sadder still.


*****


I should’ve stopped my killing spree before Father Fidel, or even before that. But I didn’t regret anything. Since I killed my dad, I became alive. Choosing my targets with or without motive, the planning, the hunting, and then the execution, every step gave me an adrenaline rush; I had never enjoyed life so much.

Since I didn’t have any feelings for my victims, using my skills to cut them to pieces was like handling cows or pigs. Knowing that their flesh would be eaten, digested, and then defecated. I was in control. I was the master of the universe.

The unique sound of my tools, the sharpening of the knives echoing in my butcher shop without the sound of human voices, the special care I took while I was cutting breasts, the minor disgust I felt while handling penises. The mortal sound of the last breath from a life recently expired. The whole process was orgasmic. And gaining power and confidence with every person I killed was a reward hard to compare.


*****


I had an appointment with my shrink, but when the day came I thought it would be useless to attend. I knew I needed to have a final conversation with her, and I had decided to express myself openly and without any fear. Last time we met, I shamefully ran away with my tail between my legs and I wasn't too happy about it.

My evil actions caught up with me just when I thought I had found asylum in my own mind when my tormented soul finally found some peace.

If I had the chance to go back to the moment my dad went into that refrigerator and do everything differently, beginning by not locking the door, I would still choose to do it all the same way. I wouldn’t change a thing. 

Considering all the crimes I've committed I'm sure I was a good candidate for a lobotomy to fix my schizophrenia, manic depression, bipolar disorder, or wherever mental illness I suffered.

After a short polite greeting, Jennifer, my psychiatrist began our session.

“We were interrupted abruptly during your last visit Angel, or was it you, that was in a hurry to get out of my office?”

“Both, I think.”

"This time we won’t be interrupted, I guarantee it. We’ve already established what you’ve done and it’s too late to deny it. Before we continue, I want to make clear that all information shared by patients cannot be disclosed without written permission. Unless the psychiatrist believes the patient can cause harm to himself or others. Just answer me this question, have you killed anyone?"

“The reason I came to you was that I thought I needed professional help, my mind was a mess. Could I blame one of my multiple personalities? Have you failed in your mission to cure me?” I said.

It was useless. I didn’t know what to say. I couldn't defend myself, all evidence was pointing at me. I'd be a fool if I tried to deny it.

“You were deeply troubled when you first showed up. I might take some credit for that, but nothing could change the past. If you were involved in the disappearance or murders of those people you need to surrender to the police. If they find you guilty, you can plead innocence by reason of insanity. I testify on your behalf. You could be sent to a mental institution instead of prison. If you promise you won’t harm yourself I’ll give you two days to settle your personal life, after that, I'll notify the authorities. Now, tell me how many persons have you killed?”

We were interrupted by her assistant to let us know she was leaving. We heard when she locked the front door. My shrink and I were alone. I could see the fear in her eyes; she shouldn’t have allowed her secretary to leave. But it was too late now.

“Okay if you want to know how many people I killed, grab a pen and start writing,” I said.

Then, as I stood up, I took a heavy crystal ashtray from her desk and started walking behind her. Her usual look of professional dominance and superiority disappeared in a second. She froze and looked terrified. I walked around her chair and hit her on the forehead. She fell backward on her fancy chair, bleeding profusely.

“Please Angel don’t kill me, I’m pregnant,” and after that, every time I hit her, she kept begging, “I’m pregnant Angel, please don’t kill me, I’m pregnant, I’m pregnant,” until she stopped moving.

She was the first person I killed out of my my butcher shop. I couldn’t get rid of her body the same way I did with the others. Too bad I’ll never taste her.

When I walked out of her office I kept thinking about her last question, “How many persons have you killed?” then, I began with the list . . .


1.            My dad
2.            The thief
3.            Ana Suarez
4.            Leticia
5.            Fredo
6.            The hooker
7.            Father Fidel
8.            The shrink (I wonder if I should include the baby)


If dad would have been nice to me, none of this would have happened. All my life had been boring and meaningless until I killed my dad. From then on, my life was exciting and I was always looking forward to the next day.

The distance between the psychiatrist offices from downtown to my shop was two or three miles. 

The best time I had, was when I was a kid. Back then the city was greener without so many roads and so many cars. On Saturdays, I used to walk along the river upstream and go all the way to Three Rivers. It would take me all morning to get there and then I would spend two or three hours swimming and fishing. It was easy to ask for a ride on my way back. As I grew older I would hike up all the way to the Sequoia Mountains.

I know a lot of people in this town, but none of them I consider my friends. As I stroll around town, many people would greet me, even if I try to be invisible. 'Hola Don Angel', many of them would say. But lately, I noticed a radical change in all the people that frequent the park, the homeless and winos don’t want to acknowledge my presence, they'd turn the other way when I go through the park. I don’t mind, I didn’t want to be their hero anyway. I used them too. One thing’s for sure, no one will miss me when I die, except grandma. I know she’ll find a quick way to follow me.

I promised myself not to cry in front of grandma. With the exception of my psychiatrist, grandma was the only person who knew about my crimes. She condoned everything I did, all the carnage I caused and the sins I’ve committed. Grandma and Sadie were the only two persons I loved on this Earth.

My grandma couldn’t hide her anxiety since the detectives came to investigate Father Fidel’s disappearance; she seemed more distressed every day. I’m sure she knew the end was getting near.

During the last week, every night, she came to my room to give me a kiss goodnight, something she hadn’t done since I was ten years old.



Edmundo Barraza
Visalia, Ca.



XVII
THE LUNATIC IS IN MY HEAD
(Final chapter)



The worst punishment God could give me would be to have me reunited with my dad.

If I were Satan I would demand Angel’s soul to be by my side forever. Of course, my dad would also be there.

So, it might be possible that both, God and Satan would want me back with my dad. In which case, I would kill him again.


*****


When I got home, the shop had already been closed. I found grandma waiting for me at the front door of the house, she appeared agitated and troubled and was hastily writing a note: “Angel, they all know about the murders, it’s all over.”

“Yes grandma, I know, but they won’t catch me alive, I won’t spend the rest of my life in jail. I’d rather die.”

“I want to die too.” she wrote on another note.

“I love you, grandma, I love you very much.”

“I love you too Angelito.”

The people in the park kept staring at us like zombies. Staring and moving in slow motion, as if undecided about their next move. I could sense all the tension in the air. Things were about to explode. I pushed grandma’s wheelchair towards the house. She had a stack of papers on her desk. The title on the first page simply read: “My will”.

I bent over and held her hand. I gave her a hug and a kiss. I looked in her eyes with a lump in my throat. All the feelings we had for each other had been clearly shared and expressed every day of our lives. Everything had been said. Then, I grabbed the car keys and left.

The first person I encountered outside was Leticia’s mother. She had a furious look on her face; her lips were trembling.

“You killed my daughter, didn’t you? You killed her, you murderer, I know you did!” she yelled.

Then, she yelled even louder. “The killer is here! The killer is here!” 

The people in the park gathered and slowly began to approach the house. I jumped in my car and headed for the Sequoia Mountains. I could see the maddening crowd in my rear-view mirror with their muted but exaggerated gestures, claiming for justice and desperate to avoid my escape.

Sadie came to my mind. She could have been my savior, but she appeared too late in my life. She wasn’t destined to be my savior. If she had appeared years earlier, she’d been too young to be part of my life. It was pointless anyhow; the past could never be rearranged. 

Nothing mattered anyway because my past, my present, and my future would soon collide. 

I wondered if God was witnessing my final actions. I wondered if God was enjoying the conclusion, or if Satan was anxious for my arrival. I wondered if they existed. But I didn’t care for either of them. After all, one never helped me and the other one never bothered me.

I should have never been born. It had taken all my life to find a reason to live. But I never did anything good, my life had been useless. I felt empty, I would have stopped breathing if I could.

The turning point in my life was when my mom died. Losing my mom was losing my life.

I arrived at my destination. I could see the bridge. It made no sense having any regrets.

No one will know what my motives were or what pushed me to become such a monster. The world wasn't perfect, many more people like me will show up. As long as bad parents exist in the world, monsters like me would keep appearing.

From the fateful bridge, I could see a line of patrol cars with their lights on and their sirens blasting. The air and distance distorted their sound. They were howling like some of my victims once did, needlessly and in vain. 

I finally felt happy, standing on the outside edge of the bridge. Grabbing the rail with my left hand, the gun in my right hand pointed to my right temple. 

While staring at the blue sky, my last thought was that I had created my own heaven by creating hell for others.

No need to ask for forgiveness.



THE END



Edmundo Barraza
Lancaster, Ca. Jan-20-2016