Thursday, January 9, 2014

California Killer











A young man, mentally traumatized during his teen years by his abusive father finds solace in his grandmother, who loves and admires him. She also becomes a witness and an accomplice. 

First, he kills his father whom he hates deeply. Then, he accidentally kills a thief, and that act liberates a killer instinct inside him. 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 the butcher shop. 

It contains 30,000 words (125 pages)




EDMUNDO BARRAZA
Visalia, CA. 09-01-2012


ASCENDING PSYCHO IN A DESCENDING CYCLE




I
GRANDMA 


My father left me the butcher shop and eleven houses that comprise the whole block where the shop was, except one. He also left me a scarred mind, full of sorrow and pain. He never hit me. He never abused me physically. But the negative impact of his cruel comments and the lack of support during my formative years contributed greatly to my insecure and weak mind. Indeed psychological abuse could ruin your mind in a terrible way. Even as an adult, I hardly complained. I just kept quiet.

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.

The old neighborhood butchers are one of those occupations that are inherited or get transferred from father to son by way of unconscious habit. Like my dad had learned from his father, I also learned from my dad by just being there at the butcher shop. Sometimes your dad expects you to follow his steps, without a spoken word or a promise made.

My grandfather was born in Mexico in 1912 during the revolution, in the 1930s he emigrated 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.

I consider myself a timid person, I'm shy especially around women. I could also say that I have a bi-polar personality, only because of my occupation, which requires me to be 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. But in my case, after I close the shop I turn into my own self and whatever I do, I become quiet even in my thoughts. My real self is the quiet one.

In high school, I read a quote by Chinese philosopher Confucius: "Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life" Confucius was talking to me. When you enjoy your job, it's not a job anymore.

My grandfather was a big man. 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. My dad became as big as him and of course so did I. There was no other way I had the genes and I also worked hard.

My grandpa never learned how to speak English. My father did but never cared for it. He never absorbed the American culture. He always felt he was a hundred percent Mexican. My grandpa never pushed my dad to go further than high school. He was never supportive of any goals my dad might have had. My dad became like grandpa and I became like my dad. I know I had the choice to go to college, but I had spent all my childhood and adolescence in the butcher shop and I enjoyed being there. 

There were twelve houses in our block, and we owned eleven of them. We lived in one of them and rented the rest. I guess we were rich, though I never felt or looked like a rich person.

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 in the kitchen and hit her head on the counter top. 

Her head injury caused damage to the left side of her brain and 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 how 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 in 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 to all aspects of our lives. Tidiness was high on the list of grandma's virtues. The house and the butcher shop were always clean.

When I bought her the wheelchair, the house was remodeled and adapted with 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. 

My grandma was always expressing with gestures the pleasure my dishes gave her. I enjoyed her 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. She used gestures and signals. I could read them all. Her face became very expressive. She spent a lot of time in church. I didn't know why, after all, she wasn't too devoted or virtuous. Her name was Sandra.

We live in Visalia, in Central California in the old part of town. The butcher shop is in front of the Lincoln Oval Park, a small and decrepit old park where the homeless and drug addicts spend their leisure time doing nothing. It's the poor side of town where most Mexicans live. Having the police station two blocks from here was not a deterrent for crime and violence in the area. There are four second-hand stores in the neighborhood, including the Salvation Army.

Mexicans are for the most part hard working, decent people. Considering the bad economy and the high unemployment rate, business was still good. Our house is in the back of the butcher shop.


EDMUNDO BARRAZA
Visalia, Ca, 08-27-2012




II
MY FATHER



My father was a strange character, even stranger than me. He had his demons, like me. He had his personality issues, like me, and I guess his mind was troubled, like mine. He was my father after all. My grandma says that I'm a replica of him, but I suppose I turned out a lot worse than him. I can describe him with several evil adjectives: deceived, nefarious, detrimental, hideous, etc. If my grandma is right, then I'm screwed.

My father was abusive in many ways, in many unnoticeable ways. He was an expert in mental abuse. As a father, he was also absent, unloving, unsupportive and authoritative. He had many vices and defects I'm yet to find if I'm going to have. Somehow I believe some of that stuff can be inherited genetically. For now, I have no desire to have a son. I don't need to bring another misfit into the world. Besides all that terrible stuff about my father, my grandma suspected my dad murdered my mom. 

I resented him a lot, not because he was a bad father but because he wasn't a decent enough kind of father. I just couldn't love my dad for many different reasons.

He was home all the time, but to me, he was always absent. No person could be a hundred percent evil, but if I try to find any positive qualities my dad had, I could be thinking for hours and still come up empty handed. He was a good provider, though. I never knew what hunger was and I always had shoes on my feet, but that's basic stuff. What he lacked was more important than that. I would rather be a poor kid with a great dad than a rich kid with a bad dad.

When I killed my father three years ago, I was thirty years old. I had endured for over a decade false accusations from him. He accused me of being a homosexual, and for all those years, 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'd 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 my dad was so homophobic. He was born here in the US. He had been here all his life, and yet, he acted like a typical Mexican macho man. I say this with all the respect that deserve my Mexican ancestry, but the most incomprehensible part is that I'm not gay. I'm terribly shy. I never learned how to behave in front of women. I'm just extremely timid. My dad had just worsened my traumas with years of constant false accusations.

One day we were watching a documentary on TV and they mentioned the Homo sapiens, and he turned to me and said, "Did you hear that? 'Homo' sapiens." Another time when I finally had enough, I said to him, "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."

Sometimes I thought that subconsciously I wasn't trying hard enough to find me a girl just to not give him the satisfaction. And the years passed. 

My grandma was also suffering but she never intervened, she just consoled me afterward.

Of course, I had had sex before. Once in a while, I would look for fast and easy sex with prostitutes, but it was never satisfying. As for a long term relationship with a regular girl it seemed impossible. I was too shy, I knew I would blush for anything. At home, I had to put up with my dad, but at the butcher shop, things were almost normal.

It's hard to pinpoint good memories that I shared with my dad. Perhaps when my mom was still alive. But maybe not worth remembering. My grandpa failed as a father; my dad failed as a father, so the odds are against me. I'm not dying to have a son just yet. I might stay single for the rest of my life. After all, my dad can't push me any longer.

I don't care much about money, it doesn't bring me any joy. I still don't know what happiness is, but since my dad died, I don't feel so miserable anymore.

The irony of it all was that my father in his younger years wasn't a playboy either. He was as shy as I am. My grandpa had to take my 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.

My dad offered to do the same for me, but I could never accept an arranged marriage. I could never consider to 'buy' a wife, it seemed so odd, so bizarre. Although I have to add that I might have gotten a better chance at success with a random marriage, knowing the high rate of divorce here in America.

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 said, "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 red 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 to cry. Then I heard the squeaking sound of my 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. And without saying a word grandma was able to comfort me with a simple hug. But it wasn't enough.

For a second I thought about killing myself, but instead, I decided to kill him. The shop was closed when I came back. My dad was in the walk-in refrigerator. How convenient, 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 eye And for once, I ignored him.

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. I knew grandma understood that he was not going to show up.

We close every day at 5:00 pm. 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 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". 

Of course, it was grandma's writing!

Then, I saw dad in the corner, lying down on the floor in the fetal position. He was frozen dead. He had been cold all his life, now he was just plain frozen. 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 was going to move, but he was as hard as the rest of the meat. I grabbed the meat hook to move his body, but I thought it would be disrespectful. Instead, I dragged him out of there by his feet, like a block of ice.

First, I sawed off his head with a hand saw because he was too heavy to lift to the band saw table, then, 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, but this time 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 chest 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, queer, 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 six inches or less, even the cranium. Nobody could recognize these bones as human bones. Intestines and organs went straight to the trash, including his sexual organ, ugh! I put all that in a double heavy duty, black plastic bag, tightly sealed. 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 will have free hamburgers. My dad is finally giving back to the community for years of loyal support.

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

We Mexicans have a few exclusive advantages, for instance, we can kill another Mexican and if somebody asks for him, we can just respond, "He went back to Mexico, indefinitely."

In a few hours, I'll open 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?



I have an abnormal fascination towards knives. Butcher knives, hunter knives, Swiss army knives, etc.  I have a beautiful machete that my grandfather gave me. He said that he used it in the jungles of Veracruz when he was a teenager. I keep it under my bed. If you like knives, you must have sharpening tools too, manual, and electrical, even battery operated sharpeners. I keep all my knives sharpened to perfection and then I keep sharpening them even more. 

I’m missing half a finger on my left hand. 

One day, I was in the store cutting meat with a cleaver. The cleaver is a heavy cutting tool with a 9x4 inch broad blade. I was about to cut the meat when my dad bumped into me accidentally. I lost my aim and cut off a half of my middle finger. When it healed, it looked funny. And when I gave the finger to anybody, it seemed like half an insult, and everybody would laugh. I think that’s the only good thing my dad did for me, cutting my finger off.

For a short period of time, when I was a teenager, grandpa, dad and I worked together at the butcher shop. During that time, I had the best moments of my life. I still didn't know my dad was so homophobic. After grandpa died, the relationship with my dad began to deteriorate.

On Sunday, grandma asked me to join her to church. I was surprised at how much the priests like her. She is well known and respected by all the parishioners. After communion, she gave an envelope to the officiating priest. Then, I understood why they love her so much. 

Even though her wheelchair is battery operated, Father Fidel volunteered to push her. They appeared to be good old friends and grandma seemed to enjoy his company. 

On the first day of the month, grandma collects the rent from the eleven houses we own, which is around seven thousand dollars. I take care of everything concerning the butcher shop. But she takes care of all finances concerning our house and our properties. Her donations to the church must be significant. I bet all her sins are forgiven in advance, even without a confession.

My dad bought the house next to the shop a long time ago, and after that, he became adamant in owning the entire block. Every time they put up a house for sale, he would buy it immediately. All the mortgages are paid in full, and all the rent money is clear and free.

Ana Suarez owns the only house on the block that doesn’t belong to us. She’s about grandma's age. I heard some rumors that grandpa and she were lovers a long time ago. That lady and my grandmother hated each other, to say the least. The fact that we didn't own that house was a matter of great obsession for grandma. It bothered me a little bit too, it felt like I had a stone inside my shoe. I’m sure grandma would be very happy if we could finally own it.

In one of the other houses lives a lady in her late thirties, she’s a single mother with a sixteen-year-old daughter. A few days ago she asked me if I could give a job to her daughter, and I agreed. Since my dad ‘went back to Mexico’ work had been overwhelming. Her name is Leticia. She later said she was ready to run away if I hadn't given her the job.

Our store looks out of place in this neighborhood. The asphalt in the large parking lot was recently redone, the exterior paint in the building was still fresh. We had a contract with an exterminating company. We have security video cameras. While the shop is open I feel safe with all mu knives and hatchets.

I keep a machete under my bed, which I thought I’d never use. Until one night, while in bed I heard a noise in the store. I grabbed the machete and went into the store as quiet as a cat. The back door was open a tiny crack, and I found a guy trying to open the cash register. The store is never completely dark even with the lights off because of the lights inside the refrigerators and the deli case. When he saw me he had a look of terror on his face. He knew he was trapped. He had to pass by me to exit through the same door he used to enter. Instead of giving up, he charged at me with all his force, but my machete was already half way between us. A second after he tried instinctively to stop the blow with his left hand. I saw his hand, his head, and his body flying in three 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 against the back wall, facing me with his arched eyebrows and wide open eyes indicating perplexity.  I’m sure he was trying to say, “What the hell?” 

Then I heard the unmistakable squeaking sound of grandma’s wheelchair. She moved her head slowly examining the scene. I said, “I found a thief, should I call the police?” she responded, “No, they cause too much trouble." and went back to the house. I guess, after being in and around a butcher shop for forty years, where all you see is meat and blood, nothing is shocking anymore.

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

I had seen the thief a few times in the park. He was in his mid-twenties; medium built. It’s hard to say what his vices were. 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's 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.



*****


Yesterday 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 is about a ‘nymphet’ or sexually precocious young girl. Yes, I’ve seen the two film versions. 

When I was her age I dreaded girls like her, I felt intimidated by them. Girls like her were the cause of my current traumatized state. Girls like her forced me to run and hide in the corners of my room. I always liked them, but I could never go near them. 

If I accept to be psychoanalyzed, I bet they could find in the dark alleys of my brain dozens of traumas that profoundly affected my mind. In my childhood and adolescence, I went through embarrassing moments that made me the way I am now. I bet, those psychiatrists would say that I am ‘sanely insane’ or ‘insane only in the inside’ or something like that.

I was fascinated by that movie, utterly enraptured by it, by the boldness of the male character and by the seductive audacity of Lolita. She was my greatest fear, and the male protagonist was who I wanted to be. Both of them were at fault, but I couldn’t blame either 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, and that she felt attracted to older men, but not that old, like in the movie, she liked them younger. 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?”

If there was to be any friendship or relationship between us, this was a decisive moment. 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 and mockery, unnoticed by most people because I always walked away. But now I was an adult, I was the boss, I was the owner of the establishment. I was giving the orders, but I knew that a false start 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,” Oh no, I’m losing control again. She’s too sharp and direct. Then I continued,  “What I mean is, 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 unknowingly be able to lessen my stupid shyness. With her, as my employee, I have to confront my fears on a daily basis. Make them part of my regular life, get used to them, and who knows; maybe even I could 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 just fine. Their personalities were similar. I rarely saw them arguing. They respected each other. What they had in common was their lack of warmth. They weren't famous for showing their emotions. But they weren't always like that.

When I was a kid they acted like kids too. We used to go to the ocean, to amusement parks, we used to go fishing and camping. But when I turned eleven or twelve, they started to change. After that, they stopped all the fun.

My changes were only physical, I couldn't avoid it, but I was still a kid. They didn't have to change at all. But just like that, they weren't my friends anymore. That was a rough transition, it was all too confusing for a little boy. So I stayed in the lonely comforts of my mind, and I became withdrawn and shy.

They began to treat me like an adult. Then, it all changed into a serious business. After doing my homework, I would turn into a butcher, and they would take turns to teach me how to use the knives. It seemed like they were competing to show me their expertise. I adapted to all those changes, but I was a little disillusioned.

One afternoon, while doing our cleaning chores, grandpa was telling dad about his intentions of retirement. My grandfather was eighty years old.

"I'm tired son; I'm 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 all 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. It'll be okay. I'll give you some money. Besides, the decision has been made, we don't need to discuss it any longer."

A couple of weeks later, grandpa was dead.

We went fishing to the Sequoia Mountains at my dad's suggestion. It all seemed natural. Three generations on a fishing trip, eighty-year-old grandfather Ricardo, forty four-year-old father Ramon, and fourteen-year-old son Angel. Having fun together, maybe for the last time.

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. We sat in the middle of the bridge with our legs hanging down from it. We took our fishing gear, rods and bait and got ready to fish all day. Not a minute had passed, when dad said he forgot the lunch box and asked me to go back and get it. He said that he left it inside the truck behind the seat, and if I didn't hurry, the sandwiches would go bad in the heat. I got up against my will and went to get them.

To cut the time in half, I began to run.We were the only people around. Few people knew about this spot, and that's why we liked it so much.

On my way back, through a clearing in the woods, I could see the bridge, but no one was there. As I hiked a little higher I could see them at the bottom of the stream where the rocks were. I could barely see dad lifting a rock above his head and hitting my fallen grandpa with it. I couldn't believe my eyes! Was it real? It was like watching a silent movie just movements but no sound. I rubbed my eyes and I opened them even more, but I saw the same image. My dad was killing grandpa, and I couldn't do anything about it because I was too far. I began to run again, but then I thought I couldn't say anything because I knew he would kill me too. He would have to.

After all, grandpa did retire 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 cold and started treating me in a mean way after that day. I never told him that I saw him killing grandpa; it was useless. My grandpa was dead regardless. If I reported the crime they would have taken dad to prison. I was fourteen years old, I had a family and I was afraid. I could be even more afraid without having one. I never told grandma either.

My dad told the police that grandpa slipped on the bridge and fell. Dad was a good actor. They believed his whole story.

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



EDMUNDO BARRAZA
Visalia, Ca. 09-16-2012





V
  STAIRWAY TO HELL



All clothing Leticia wears is very suggestive, or it might be that all she wears looks suggestive on her. If I send her to the walk-in refrigerator for a piece of meat, she comes out with her suggestive erected nipples. If she wears a miniskirt, she’s not careful and shows her underwear left and right. I bet she doesn't know what modesty is. Tight jeans, tight t-shirts or blouses, everything looks provocative on her. It’s a little distracting in a good kind of way, but I don’t mind it at all. She brought new life to the place and to my life. She handles her job with great efficiency. Most of the customers already know her, but I find it inconvenient, to walk around with a hard-on all day.

She’s 5’7; her light brown skin looks soft and fresh. She has short brown hair. Her long legs are beautiful, and her breasts are outstanding. When she smiles, a little dimple forms on her left cheek. At first, she appeared average looking to me, but now I think she looks prettier each day. She's been working for me for three weeks and never calls me by my name. 

Her dad was deported to Mexico three years ago, after three consecutive DUI infractions in one year, and hasn’t come back since then. Her mom is a cashier at the Salvation Army. After closing time we stay 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’ve been adapting to her flirty nature and I hardly blush anymore. I feel comfortable enough around her. I don’t feel intimidated by her candid and extroverted behavior. She might be a little immature, but I believe that her personality is natural and innocent. Her intentions are 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. Until now, 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 if you would have been present at that time, you would still be in your mom's womb." 

*****


My dad had offered 130,000 dollars to Ana Suarez for her house, but she refused. It’s the same old story. When you want to sell, no one wants to buy and if you want to buy they don’t want to sell. But everything has a price. She’s a retired teacher. She has a daughter in Arizona, but they’ve been estranged for many years. The rumor goes that after their affair was discovered her husband left her. A few months later her daughter moved away. She’s lived by herself since then. I've never seen her at the shop. She’s either a vegetarian or buys her meat elsewhere. 

I made another offer for her house, this time 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 grandpa happy, so he was looking elsewhere. What a sad old lady, still embittered by events that happened decades ago. 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 keeps a notepad with her, 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 back yard, 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 back yard. And then, she demanded that we fixed the fence, which I did. 

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, it 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 back yard while hanging her clothes on the clothes line, 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 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 covered her mouth, lifted her body and carried her to the shop. 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 fan. The back of her neck needed to be accessible for the next part of my plan. Then, I moved grandma aside and grabbed the machete. 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 many compliments this 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 been feeling abnormally normal lately, I know that's the result of two events that happened recently in my life: the disappearance of my father and the appearance of Leticia. It's been a welcome therapeutic pause to my prolonged mental wounds. 

For a while, my deviating thoughts had been distracted. The usual evil desires to kill people have faded a little bit. The sudden impulse I feel, to push people to incoming cars, or to push people from bridges, or to stab them in their necks. Since I was young, I had imagined how easy it could be to kill anyone. I think that feeling was provoked by the envy I felt to see other people happy.

Last night, I had the same recurring dream I had for years. I was six or seven years old and a girl, a little older than me was chasing me. She wanted to kiss me, but I was afraid and confused. I was trying to get away from her, and I crawled under my bed. I had my back against the wall, it was as far as I could go. She finally succeeded and kissed me, then she went away. And I stayed there until dark. 

But the first time wasn't a dream. It happened in real life when I was six years old and since then I've been having the same dream my whole life. Since then, I feel secure behind the shadows, behind the dark. I am alone and anonymous, no one knows me, and I like it that way.

*****

Now I know what all those Saints feel when Virgins appear in front of them. Today, I had a beautiful vision after closing time. I was taking the money from the cash register, and when I turned my head, Leticia was standing on a stool cleaning the top of the refrigerator. She was wearing her favorite (and mine too) mini skirt. I could see the entire magnitude of her long beautiful legs. She was wearing white panties, she was exposing the lower part of her butt cheeks. It was a glorious sight.

When she caught me watching under her skirt, she didn't cover herself, instead she gave me a provocative smile. And I didn't blush, which was in itself a small miracle. Perhaps I was cured.

I had mixed emotions between my sexual excitement and the forbidden desires she was openly provoking. 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 a snake and I was a victim. Could I still be considered the victim if I rape her? I knew she was offering herself to me. 

I knew I had two options. The first one was to ignore her and hide in my room, and the second was to rape her. There was nothing in between because I didn’t know how to handle romance, passion or tenderness. In the end, there was only one option. 

While still on the stool, 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 and then, I penetrated her. I covered her mouth to muffle her screams. After I noticed she was starting to enjoy, I removed my hand from her mouth. I was insatiable, and so was she. I didn’t have to force her anymore. Mybrutal rape’ had turned into a fantasy for her, and in fact, she was now taking the lead. She was far more experienced than I was. I felt a little disappointed about that, but I kept satisfying my long repressed sexual abstinence.

For a moment, I was transported to my teenage years. I wish this was taking place sixteen years ago. When I was a stupid shy kid when the only thing that stood out in me was my inferiority complex. Then, she interrupted my thoughts and said, “You don't have to worry, I’m on the pill.” The enchantment turned into deception. She was no ‘Lolita’. Perhaps 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 were unknown to me. And now, Leticia was altering emotions I didn't know I had. I was getting a chance to learn what a normal life could be. I decided to take it.

I lost an entire decade of my life, most of my twenties. I don’t know where all those years went. Even if I dig deep into the matter, I might not be able to find anything worth remembering. I had no friends, no dates, no distractions or attractions. It seemed like I’d lived in a cave. A whole decade of voluntary confinement. I had been an abject subject, a suppressed individual. I wish I had met Leticia a dozen years earlier. Wow, that’s a scary thought. But wait, twelve years ago she was only four years old.
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. I couldn’t believe it, my first date. How absurd was that?

Was I breaking the law by going out with her? Probably not, she could be my cousin, my niece, my friend, and who cares? But if they'd find out I’m having sex with her, then the cops would care and society too. I wonder if a thirty-three-year-old man can marry a sixteen-year-old girl. Probably not even with the permission of her parents. But those were not my intentions. I don't want to be a father. I can say that my grandfather was a good father, but he raised a killer. My dad wasn’t a good father, but he also raised a killer. The odds are not in my favor.

I had a good time at the movies. Apparently, she had to ask her mom for permission to go to the movies. How weird is that? We’ve been having sex for two months, and she needs to ask permission to go to the movies.

Then on Friday, she asked me out again, she wanted to see a new band. 
The place was loud and crowded. I was having a decent time until Leticia went to the restroom. I saw her talking to a guy, he was probably four or five years older than her. They disappeared in the crowd. and I didn't see her again until the next day at the shop. 

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

I had the presentiment that guys like me couldn’t be so lucky for a long period. I don't want to sound too melodramatic, but it all felt like a mirage on the desolated desert of my life. 

I don’t know what reasoning my mind used, but her fate had been decided after a short discussion that took place inside my head. Someone came back with the verdict and the sentence. I didn't participate in that decision.

The first thing she said when she arrived at the butcher shop 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 me 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, but what are you planning to do with the little person inside of you?”

I couldn’t say ‘the baby’ or ‘our baby.’ First, I didn’t know if it was a lie, or if it was mine, and second I didn’t have any illusions about having a child.

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

I couldn’t believe she was showing me so much hatred with such an avalanche of illogical arguments and aberrations. And I couldn’t believe that it was me criticizing Leticia about her irrationalities and bizarre behavior, me, a heartless killer psychopath.

Then I said, “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? I’m sorry, 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 . . . Boss . . . please.” 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 appear to be a normal day. The minute we closed, Leticia was out of her clothes and went down on me. I couldn’t help but think that last night 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, just when I thought I was on the right side, the normal side. She betrayed me.

I almost felt bad for what I was about to do; my mind was struggling. But then, I came to the conclusion that I had been faithful to her my whole life, and she could only be faithful to me for two measly months. She was talking about marriage right after she betrayed me. That wasn’t right. No one could 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, it wasn’t normal sex anymore. 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 a sexual game, 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. I felt invincible, and with the infinite power to end anybody’s life.

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. And I told her that Leticia had mentioned her plans to go to Las Vegas or Hollywood to look for fame and fortune. Her mom said she 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
  WHERE'S MOMMY?



It’s been less than a week since Leticia ‘went away’ and I miss her. I miss her company, her smile and having sex with her. I could have waited two more years and legally married her. And with that, I could probably have simply erased my prior life, but with me, you have to be straight as an arrow, otherwise bad things can happen. It took me thirty years to get an opportunity at ‘romance’. I don't want to wait that long for my next chance. On top of that, I lost an excellent helper. It’ll be hard to find a good replacement.

In the morning, I put a ‘help wanted’ sign in 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. Besides, I think deep down I was looking for a Leticia’s replica.

As I was driving aimlessly through town with nothing to do 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 know decent girls don’t ask for rides. She might be a ‘rookie’ street walker or a ‘virgin hooker’, but she wasn’t bad looking.

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

“Nowhere in particular, I’m just killing time, I’m just passing through. I’m staying in this town for a couple of days. I need to 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 headed?”

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

“Well, if you’re looking for some fun I can help you find it like I said I need some money. You want to go somewhere?”

I'd found out that prostitutes are easy to talk to, they don’t intimidate me, and most of them are friendly. I guess 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 come and join me?”

I felt excited about the possibility of having sex. After having so much sex with Leticia, I don'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, and her objective was to reach L.A. and try her luck at acting. (Can't they have a different dream?).

She’d been alternating the Greyhound bus and hitchhiking, depending on her luck, she said she’d been abused at 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. Fifty dollars to go down on me or a hundred for regular sex, I chose the first option. The place wasn’t very private for the second. I paid her in advance. I’ve never been a big spender, but I always carry two or three hundred dollars with me. It was getting dark, and there were no cars left.

After she showed me the entire cosmos, stars and comets for three minutes, and as she was performing her duties, I managed to remove her blouse and bra. I wanted to compare her breasts with Leticia’s. Leticia won by a small margin. I told her that I would give her another fifty dollars if she could join me for a couple of beers. 

When I put 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, but again she said she didn’t have it. So I pushed her out of the car, from her waist up, she didn't have any clothes on. I could see her getting smaller in my rear-view mirror, and mean and heartless as I am, I still felt bad for her, 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 and hit me, rape me or rob me, so I have to balance it out. I’m not a professional hooker; I enjoy sex a lot, 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 might regret it, but I offered her a job and she accepted it. I can still back out and blame it on the alcohol.

In the 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 too dramatic it’s only a temporary cashier’s job.”

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


*****



“I’m afraid for my life. If I’m dead while you’re reading this letter, let the police know that I only suspect my husband. If I disappear or end up in the desert; my husband should be the only one to blame. I love him dearly and all my family too, 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. I know he’ll never believe me. 

I’m afraid he wants to kill me. I might look like a lunatic if I accuse him without any proof. For the last two months, I've lived in constant terror, afraid of what he might do next. But the more I tell Ramon that I love him, the more adamant he becomes, and the more he makes me suffer. A few days ago he became hysterical and threaten me when he found out that my cousin gave me a crucifix, and he ripped it off from my neck. I’m living in a sour agony. When I’m in bed beside him, he refuses to touch me. Last time we had sex; in the middle of it, he suddenly interrupted it 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. 

I’m getting tired, it's just too exhausting. I just wanted to live with a little happiness in my life, is that too much to ask? 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


Last night grandma gave me this letter. She said she found it 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. I kept crying all night long. 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 is Joy, she’s twenty years old, she said she’d been waiting for a long time to get away from home. She wants to get established in Los Angeles, and then go back to Oregon to get her sixteen-year-old sister because she doesn’t want 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 seems to be smarter than Leticia. At least she’s more mature. She has short reddish, brown hair, clear brown eyes. She has a strong, healthy body. Attractiveness level, 7 or maybe 7.5 Leticia was a solid 8. After a week, she’s handling the job without difficulty. She doesn’t speak Spanish. I hope she gets along with grandma.

On Saturday, I invited Joy out for a beer. We ended up in a gay bar. She says most gay people are nice, and that she feels fine around them. When she asked for my opinion, I said I’m neutral, and that I didn’t ‘dislike’ them.

“You want to dance?” she asked me casually, probably anticipating being declined.

“I’m not drunk enough,” I replied. I feel comfortable with her because she hasn't caused me any embarrassing moments. She might not even notice how shy I am. “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, I stayed with her and had sex (like I say) or made love (like she says). I think you should only call it ‘making love’ when the object of the relationship is to have a baby.

She enjoys long conversations and she does most of the talking. She said one of his dad’s friends raped her when she was sixteen and that her dad stabbed him on 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’s afraid something like that can happen to her younger sister too. 

In the morning Joy took my grandma to church. It might be fun to see how they communicate, one doesn’t speak Spanish and the other doesn’t speak at all, English or Spanish.

*****

So far, the murders I’ve committed have been ‘hate crimes’. I hate being insulted and denigrated, (dad) I hate getting robbed, (thief) and I hate betrayal. (Leticia) I've been around blood all my life, but until I came in contact with human blood I noticed it could be addictive. I feel like a shark when it smells blood, or like a wolf when it’s extremely hungry. I think I could be able to kill anybody without any motive, just for the simple reason to give release to my devious and degraded desires. Could it be possible that killing can become an obsession or an addiction?

Having read my mom’s letter could be the reason I feel this way. When I finished reading the letter, I wished my dad were alive so I could kill him again. I’ll never know how my dad killed my mom. I think it's better not to know.

Last night, grandma left an unusual note on my bed: 

“Dear Angel: When are you going to grant me the enormous glory of another of your fancy feasts?” 

I knew she meant a French dish, like Leticia’s breasts. Can she possibly be thinking about Joy? Well, I love my grandma a lot, and I’m planning a ‘big’ surprise for her, but not yet. First I need to find me a victim, but Joy’s not it.

Joy says she's happy in this town, even if it’s a whole world different from Oregon. She spent weeks on the road, she had many adventures, mostly bad experiences, especially in California where there’s a lot of ‘psychos’. She says she’s glad she met me. We’re going to the gay bar again, it’s perfect because she’s not looking for a boyfriend and I’m not looking for a girlfriend. 


"I'm not a prostitute; that word doesn't fit me at all, not even 'street walker'. I enjoy sex and needed money to continue my journey, I never did it in Oregon.   Normally I would do it without asking for money, just because I like it, but I still have my dignity. I never accepted going out with dirty old men, just good looking men like you. If you're on the move that's about the only thing you can do to get money and keep moving. I don't think I'll do it again, I have a job now. By the way, thanks, Angel."


“You don’t have to explain anything to me. I think you’re a nice person. You’ve been very helpful. In the beginning, my customers felt a little intimidated by you. Most of them don’t speak English but now they all seem to like you because you’re trying to speak Spanish, and they think it’s funny.” 

“It’s incredible to find so many people in America that don’t speak English; I never saw this in Oregon, but I like Spanish people, I like the language, the food, and the music.”

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

“Well, you know what I mean, Latinos, Hispanics, Mexicans, all I’m trying to say is people that speak Spanish.” and then she continued “Oh, I wanted to thank you for your hospitality and your friendship, I really needed a break from the instability and dangers of the road.”

“Don’t mention it, you can stay all the time you want.”

After a few beers, I realized how good alcohol helps me to feel relaxed, I feel less inhibited. If I had noticed this fifteen years ago, I’d be a happy alcoholic instead of the recluse, introverted asshole that I am now.

A couple of guys were playing pool in the back, half the people were in their underwear, even the bartender. Joy was beating everybody, she just found out that tonight is underwear night, she asked me if I’m daring enough to remove my pants.

“I’m not drunk enough,” I replied.

“Seems that you’re never drunk enough, come on, drink up. Two more beers and we’ll be playing pool in our panties, come on!”

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

"Ha, you know what I mean."

I’m not even brave enough to take communion at church and here I am, shooting pool in my briefs, surrounded by gay people and I feel great. If my dad could see me now, he would kill me for sure. There’s a guy who’s been paying for our drinks, I don’t know if he’s after Joy or me, and I can’t tell whether he’s gay or not. When he finally approached us, instead of grabbing my hand to introduce himself he grabs my balls and says, “nice package.” I must be a little inebriated because I think it’s funny. If I was sober, my attitude would have been different, very different. He turns out to be a charming guy, Joy and him act like old friends.

He says we can call him Al or Fred or Alfred, but I call him Fredo because he looks a little like Fredo, from the movie the Godfather. All is clear now, he’s after my bones, but I know this if you’re not gay you’re not attracted to homosexual sex. It bothers me seeing two guys kissing each other, two girls not so much, but I could never have sex with another man, not even drunk. He invites us to his place, but Joy declines and says that she’s too drunk, and then she calls for a taxi cab to take her home. I stay a little longer. Fredo might be expecting a sexual encounter with me, but I have other plans, more exciting plans and instead of going to his place I take him to my butcher shop.

If he could see what I have in mind for him, he would feel safer in hell. 

At the shop, we’re happily drunk, and I smile each time he grabs ‘my package’. I put on my apron, I got my knife and I start sharpening it while I say, “You’re going to be my slave for the rest of the night.” and he says, “ooh, I like it. You’re so cool. I’ll let you do whatever you want with me.” 

I told him to sit on a stool. I covered his eyes with his tie, put a rag in his mouth and covered it with duct tape. Then, I tied his hands with an electrical cord and put both of his hands on top of my butcher’s block. Then I grabbed my heavy and reliable machete and with savage force, like a guillotine, I slashed both his hands from his arms. It was a glorious bloody sight! 

For at least a full second he didn’t react. Then, he tried to uncover his blindfolded eyes, it was indeed a surreal and bizarre vision. 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 to rub his bloody stumps all over his face. He was screaming at the top of his lungs, but with his mouth gagged, it was all in vain. He started to jump wildly like a chicken without its head. His actions were a total sign of impotent desperation. Then he began to run, but where do you run to, with your eyes covered and no hands to help you avoid crashing into a wall? He did crash into the metal door of the refrigerator and bounced back facing me. And then with a potent blow and a swift swing of my machete, he really didn’t have a head anymore. 

Al, Fred, Alfred or even Fredo didn’t exist anymore, our lives converged only for a few hours, and now he’s gone. Satan sent him my way at the wrong time. Who could you blame, was it a decision Joy or Fredo or I made? Was it a fortuitous event that all three of us had to be in that bar? Or that Joy invited me to that specific bar, or that I accepted the invitation, or that Fredo chose me as a possible sexual partner, or that Joy got too drunk and had to leave? I could have pushed him away when he touched my crotch for the first time. Just a different choice would have changed everything.

Fate, destiny or whatever it is that determines your future, put Fredo in my path and now he’s gone. He found his inevitable destiny.

Fredo didn't do anything wrong, he was probably a good person, he didn't deserve to end that way, it wasn't fair. Some might say life isn't fair. Well, I can say that too.
Happiness returned to the faces of my homeless friends, some of them were now calling me ‘Don Angel’. They formed an orderly long line to get their hamburgers. I saved two portions of meat for grandma and me.

I believe that grandma, without doing anything irrational could be even crazier than me. I was about to test her true limits. She’s never been mad at me, she idolizes me. I’m the only person she loves in this world, but in part, I know, it’s because I’m all she’s got.

That night, I fulfilled my grandma’s wish for a fancy feast. I prepared another exquisite dish from her French recipe book. The main ingredient was Fredo’s penis and testicles for my grandma and for me several thin slices of fillet, taken from his buttocks, combined with various fruits and vegetables. I took extreme care shaving Fredo’s member. For the stuffing, I chose a zucchini filled with Roquefort cheese, and inside the testicles, I put the sweetest and biggest peaches I could find. I put it in the oven at 350° for ninety minutes and then I surrounded the plate with steamed vegetables. I added grapes and tiny squares of apples and pears, all sprinkled with cinnamon and a few drops of honey. Hmm, mouthwatering, right?

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 gave me hers, and she began to eat with her singular elegance and excellent manners.

My grandma wasn’t so twisted after all. 

I didn’t touch the plate; it looked totally gross. 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



Last night Joy and I were watching a movie at her place about a serial killer. The story was engrossing. I'm sure I didn't blink a single time.

The protagonist had two brothers; his father was a compulsive gambler and alcoholic, his mother was also an alcoholic. She frequently left them in the care of their grandfather, a convicted child molester. They were 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, (castration or removal of his testicles) 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. I left for home instead. I had to analyze my brain, I had to dig all corners of my head in the comfort of my dark room.

The movie made me reflect on my depraved and perverse character. I know I’m not as vicious or cruel as this killer. I’ll be going straight to hell, there's no doubt about it, but there’s got to be a difference on the punishment one gets. What if a kill only one person, what if I kill thirty? Would I be in the same hell as Hitler? Would we deserve the same punishment?

I'm not sure what method of execution I would prefer. Shooting squad, hanging, gas chamber, electric chair or lethal injection? They should also consider the guillotine. I would say that I like my method better. My machete is like the guillotine. It only takes a second, no suffering and no torture. I might enjoy seeing others suffer, but only for a second. Nevertheless, I must admit I'm not a good person.

I’m sure I inherited some of my dad’s ‘bad blood’. What he did with me had a devastating effect on my sanity, but if I can accept that I'm a monster, then I’m not too far gone. In the end, I gain nothing by blaming my dad for all my defects and my evil acts. The only excuse I have is that I was pushed to be a monster. All I am is the consequence of mistreatment and abuse by my father.

The death penalty doesn’t scare me at all. I might never get caught, and if I did, I wouldn’t care. I bet most killers (if not all) don’t care about capital punishment. And if you’re in favor, it makes you a killer too, at least in a lesser degree, because you’re approving for someone to be killed. I guarantee you,  the death penalty is not a deterrent in my case. 

The movie was based on a true story. His name was William Bonin he was forty-nine years old when he died in 1996 in San Quentin, CA. He expressed no remorse for his crimes and left a note that stated. “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.”  

And that makes me think . . . I am in a quiet place, thinking about it seriously, and I’m thirsty for more. I don’t know what can stop me. I am not complete, the world owes me a lot more.

When I get to hell, I’ll be dead already. Why should I be afraid of hell and all its terrors if I’m dead already and I can’t feel a thing? Why should I be afraid and remorseful, if I cannot die a second time?  


*****


It’s been three months since Joy showed up in Visalia. She says that she likes it here, she already sent money for her sister to join her. It took Joy two months to get here from Oregon, and for her sister, it’ll be just one hour by air. Joy’s very methodical. It seems that she can achieve any goals she might have. She takes my grandma to church every Sunday and keeps learning new words in Spanish. We’ve been having sex only to satisfy our desires, but we don’t have a serious relationship. It’s just friendly sex and very convenient for both of us, having no compromises of any kind. I’m sure we passed the phase where we could have ‘fallen in love’.

Last week I got a ticket for driving under the influence of alcohol. Joy and I went to a bar, and we had bad luck in our timing when we got out of the bar. They suspended my license for six months, I have to attend twenty-six Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. I’m not proud of it, but I’m not worried about it either. It was my first driving infraction. I gave my car and keys to Joy. She’ll be my driver until they give my license back, and that’s fine with me. 

The place where I go to my meetings it’s only a few blocks from home, and I don’t need to drive. On my second meeting, one of the guys in the group gave me a ride home. His name is Pablo, he’s twenty-four years old and works at the Rescue Mission on Santa Fe Street, not too far from my shop, he seems to be a nice guy. When I told him that I was the owner of the butcher shop. He came to the store and I introduced him to Joy.

On Sunday, Joy and I went to the airport to pick up her sister. Her name is Sarah, they call her Sadie. She’ll be seventeen in two months; she just finished High School. She said she’ll take a year off to figure what she’ll do next. She has reddish, brown hair like Joy, but hers is longer and curlier and the freckles on her cheeks make her look even more beautiful. She’s full of energy. She reminds me of Leticia, but Sadie’s more curvaceous. She’s all smiles and kisses. She seems genuinely pleased to meet me. One thing I notice is that I don’t blush anymore, I really must be cured. Good.

Sadie is the one who should have been named Joy because she is full of joy. On my scale of gorgeousness, she might be an eight and a half.

Every time Pablo gives me a ride from our AA meetings to the shop he stays for a while to talk to Joy. He finally invited her out, and that’s okay with me. I know her next step would be to refuse to have sex with me, and that’s also fine with me. I proposed to Joy to let Sadie work in the shop with us, after all; business is good and we can afford another employee. She reminds me so much of Leticia, but not in the ‘Lolita’ kind of way, but in her joyful enthusiasm and attitude. I was about to describe her as a mature ‘Lolita’, but if she’s mature, she can’t be ‘Lolita’ at all. 

She’s also attracted to the Mexican folklore; the radio is always on a Spanish speaking station, and I know she’ll be singing all mariachi songs soon. I enrolled her to driving lessons, and she was happy about it. Joy didn’t oppose to it, but she told me to keep in mind that she is seventeen and to stay away from her. She didn’t want anybody to break Sadie’s innocent heart. Fair enough, but I had never broken anybody’s heart. It’s always been the opposite. 

Sometimes I wonder when my thirst to kill will end, nobody is tormenting me anymore. I don’t know if I can stop killing people; I probably won’t, because I don’t feel particularly bad about it. I’ve been touched by the devil, and he is too attractive and convincing. I’ll always blame my dad of my ‘evilness’, but sometimes I think that I should also thank him because I also enjoy being evil. It’s confusing, but I also enjoy my ‘confusedness’.

One night, I took a cab and went back to the bar by myself. I’ve been feeling less of an introvert lately because nobody seems to notice my flaws and phobias. 
I found an empty stool next to a guy who’s wearing an earring, and I started a conversation.

“I’ve been thinking about getting an earring, but I’m a complete ignorant about the subject, like for instance, what side should I wear it? I’m heterosexual. I just want to be sure.” 

“It seems that you’ve been in the closet for too long, ha, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to offend you,” he said with a sarcastic smile, and continued, “It used to be that homosexuals wore their earrings on the right side, because they claimed they fought too long for their ‘right’ to express their sexual preference. Nowadays nobody cares. Anybody can wear earrings on either side. What you ‘feel’ you are, it’s inside you. By the way mine, it’s an ear stud. I’m also heterosexual and nobody cares about it anymore, except my girlfriend.”

“Wow, I am a complete ignorant. I don’t come out that much and I don’t know anything about fashion or trends or cool stuff.” I replied, not feeling a bit ashamed of it.

“That’s good for you; all this shit will become obsolete next year for sure. I think that real fashion and trends used to last for years, but now we’re living in faster times, so things change faster. Remember the ‘ghetto blasters’ or ‘walk-mans’ or ‘skorts’ or even ‘pagers? Same thing with music and hairstyles, remember the mullet?”

“Yeah, I remember pagers, but not the rest. I had a beeper in High School, now it seems so last century,” and now we’re both laughing, and I order another round of beers.

Around midnight he gave me a ride home, I didn’t kill him, which is good. 

I feel fine, I might be a good killer after all, or maybe I’m just too drunk and tired.

I feel hollow like something is missing. My mind is restless. I still have to learn so much about me.



EDMUNDO BARRAZA
Visalia, Ca.




X
A GLIMPSE OF PARADISE



On Labor Day, a week before Sadie’s seventeenth birthday, Pablo invited the girls to Disneyland, and they convinced me to join them. Last time I went to Disneyland I was with my grandfather and grandma, I was eleven years old. Pablo brought his cousin Julian with him; he’s twenty-two years old. Both of them are good people, nice and handsome.

I think that Pablo and Joy were trying to set up Julian with Sadie. I felt out of place in the beginning, but Sadie preferred to be with me on all the rides. Maybe I shouldn’t have accepted to come; perhaps Sadie didn’t want me to feel bad, but we all had a great time. Sadie kissed me a few times during the rides, and I didn’t know how to react. As a friend or a big brother, but brothers or friends don’t kiss like that, in any case, she was being a little too effusive and I was enjoying it a lot.

Half the people at the AA meetings look like losers, hopeless losers. At least half of them haven’t touched a drop of alcohol in years, yet, they keep coming. They’re not shy at all. They go to the podium and without shame tell all about their lives. The other half are people sent by the Court, for alcohol, drug or traffic violations. It appears that rich people don’t commit this kind of infractions. 

Half of the people have tattoos, half of them have long white hair in a ponytail and look like hippies or Vietnam veterans. I don’t think I belong here. I bet most of them think they don't belong here. I wish I can bring the ones I don’t like to my shop and make hamburgers with them, or out of them.  I'm glad when the long hour is over. Pablo didn’t show up today, so I start walking back to the house.

It’s been too long since the 'Fredo affair’ and I believe I have contained my adrenaline for a long time already. Now that I’m walking on the streets I see everybody 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 don’t see them as a great source of excitement. 

The other day I was thinking about finding a rich person to kill, a wealthy female lawyer or a smart and successful doctor. I wonder if there are any stupid doctors. I wonder how it feels to kill a smart, rich and powerful person. Maybe one day.

Then, I see a woman waiting at the bus stop and I sit next to her. She smiles and asks me if I’m looking for a good time, and I say yes, and I know this is it. The drought is over. She’s in her thirties; she has no distinctive attributes, just plain average. She asks if I have a car; I answer no. She says she charges fifty dollars, I say okay, but you must be blindfolded while we do it. She agrees. Then, we head for my butcher shop or chamber of torture, no, not torture, just chamber of terrors, short terrors. It must be past nine, the streets are almost deserted. We use the side gate very quietly, I don’t want to disturb grandma.

It’s very convenient when they volunteer, less of a hustle, less of a struggle. First, she gets naked, then she sits on a stool, then I cover her eyes with a soft cleaning rag. I get an immediate erection, but I don’t want to have sex with her. I just want to get my beautiful sharp machete and slice her neck with it. I wonder how it feels 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, to just cease to exist in a second. All your goals and ambitions and the entire future, gone forever. I wonder if it's true what some people say, that the next second you die, you appear in front of God. If that's the case, then, it’s not a bad deal.

Her head falls to the floor; she didn’t suffer at all, and now both of us are happy. My orgasm lasts until I cut the last piece of her body. I love blood, warm, red blood. I feel like I’m the master of the universe in my butcher shop, in the middle of all this blood with very little light in the room. The large glass windows in the front of the shop have double Venetian blinds, horizontal, inside the window frame and then vertical blinds from floor to ceiling. Everything’s sealed and secure; this is my world. I'm beginning to like my new life.

Then, I remembered I forgot to ask for her name. How can I be so disrespectful?

At the park, they all like me and show their appreciation. I’m getting good at flipping hamburgers on my commercial barbecue grill. I brought a giant ice box full of soft drinks. Sadie comes from across the street to get hamburgers for her and Joy. She looks radiantly gorgeous. She gets lovelier each passing day.


At night, I served another feast for my grandma. The same dish I prepared for her with Leticia’s breasts. But this time they’re C or D size or I don’t know what size, but they're bigger. My grandma boasts a smile as soon as I put her plate on the table and then with an inquiring look she asked me who they belonged to, I know my grandma too well. I anticipated her curiosity, and on the center of the table I placed a round tray to display cakes, but instead of a cake, I put the head of the girl with no name inside. I  covered the whole thing with a kitchen towel. I took my time cleaning her face and combing her hair. Then we proceeded to enjoy our meal on our table for three.

When we finished, my grandma gives me a kiss and goes to bed. After I cleaned the table, I put the head in a big kettle on the stove to boil it, because I’m going to keep it as a souvenir. I’ll be using the skull as a piggy bank. I’ll put it on the nightstand, next to my bed. To start, I’ll put fifty dollars in it.


*****


I bought a pair of ear studs. I had my ear pierced, the left one, just to make sure. They have a diamond in the center. I figured, if I don’t like how it looks I just don’t wear it, it’s not like a permanent tattoo. But I do like 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. It was just a coincidence that today was her birthday. Sadie was in seventh heaven, and she kissed me on the lips. In front of Joy!

What happened with Leticia it’s happening again with Sadie, her constant proximity it’s an inhuman temptation. I can’t help it. I’m attracted to forbidden pleasures. 

In High School, I fell in love so many times, with so many girls. In my mind, I had so many romances of unrequited love. I fell in love with girls I’m sure they never knew I existed. I wrote poems I never delivered for my exaggerated fear of rejection. I wasn’t ugly, but I always anticipated rejection. Now, my curse is to fall forever in love with teenage girls. Probably, because I was rejected so many times, my mind got stuck in my teenage years.


They say ‘you can’t have your cake and eat it too’; I find that sentence so simple and stupid, but I also think that it's very profound and true. 

I want to have Sadie, and I want to eat her too. I want to protect her, and to keep her, and to love her forever. At the same time, I feel the unnatural desire to kill her. Then, I could obtain the ultimate orgasm. But then, I wouldn’t have her. It’s either one or the other but never both. She’s so vulnerable and innocent, and all of it attracts me to her so much. I don’t want her to change in any way, but I know that if I touch her I might ruin her.

I wrote a poem for her, but I might never give it to her because I think it's silly. And I'm afraid she might laugh at me, and that could bring tragic consequences. Besides, I think nobody likes poems anymore.

Early in the morning, 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 ear stud, Angel,” Sadie said right after Joy left.

“Thank you Sadie and you don’t need a thing to look like the most amazing creature in the world. You really are, but maybe I shouldn’t say any compliments to you, you’re too young for me.”

I remember I said those same words to someone else.

“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 don’t mind that at all, it makes me feel ‘desirable’. I know all relationships start as friends. We can be friends for a while, 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.”

“I like you a lot Sadie, every way I look at you, 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 all night. She kept nagging for hours, she begged me not to get involved with you, but I know her, 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. Besides, I know you’ll never hurt me." she said.

Then, I remembered about 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 a cow, cutting some ribs on the table saw. Right after I gave it to her, I regretted it. I was a hundred percent sure of its silliness; I wanted it back. But it was too late now. I swear if she laughs or throws it to the trash I will not kill her. Okay Sadie, just ignore it. I don’t want to kill you. Like it or not, don’t say a thing, please.





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, but tell me, if you know so much about it: How do you tell your heart not to fall in love with a certain person? How do you tell he’s off limits? How do you say 'not yet'? When I know my heart has its own mind. And by the way Angel, 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. And please, if you start loving me, never, never stop.”

A minute later Joy appeared at the front door and found us working. But our conversation wasn’t over.
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. Pablo invited both of them to camp overnight at Pismo beach, and Sadie declined. 

They left around noon the following Saturday. Finally, Sadie and I were left alone.

I’m exploring new terrain. I’m thirty-four years old, and I’m very nervous about this infatuation. I’m experiencing a new sensation. 

I had felt this before, but all those times, the other girls didn’t know I was in love with them; it was a one-way love. I was a single participant in a “love story”. I was hidden and locked in the confines of my room, creating scenarios, images, and conversations that never took place in real life; it was all inside my head. 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’ve killed six persons in this room, my father, a thief, Ana Suarez, Leticia, Fredo and the hooker. Three of them I killed on the same stool Sadie is sitting on. I truly believe I have two different persons in me, otherwise, how can I fall in love with an innocent young girl and simultaneously be an insatiable murderer without any regrets or remorse whatsoever. I can still lead a normal civilized life. But which one is the real me? It feels even stranger to me, to be able to acknowledge my situation. I think I can adapt better to my mean side, I feel more in control. But, is it possible to be a sensitive man and a sadistic killer at the same time?

I can feel the tension in the atmosphere. I bet Sadie can feel it too. Heavy and dense, at moments my body trembles anticipating what’s coming. That's what I felt when I saw Leticia standing on a stool, but on that occasion, the ambient was purely sexual. This time the combination is perfect: love and sex, innocent love and unrestrained sex, a divine mix of body and mind. Both of us know what’s coming. We're both aware that a prolonged courtship is unnecessary. This is the beginning and the culmination. The flames existed before the fire started.

After we closed the store, we performed our cleaning chores silently. All excuses have expired, let’s hope for the best. I see my Scandinavian/Amazon with her flaming reddish hair approaching me. She looks ultra-sexy without trying to be. I don’t know what part of me is more excited, my soul, my heart, my mind or . . .  

She’s modest, she doesn’t flaunt her charms. She’s wearing a regular girlie white dress and a blue blouse, she could be in one of those Target fliers advertising teenage clothing, even there, she would stand out. Her lips look soft and succulent; her skin is smooth and mild. When we kiss, we disappear from this world. Then, I grab her waist and lift her to the stool, I remove her dress and underwear. I embrace her and bury my face in her curly red, pubic hair. Her lower lips are just as sweet. My tongue, like a fish, begins to swim in the depths of her red sea, her juices flow like lava from a volcano. She raises one leg and wraps it around my shoulder. Paradise couldn’t compare to this.

All roads taken, all decisions, failures, and achievements from the day I was born until today, absolutely everything I’ve done up to this point in my life, have led to this moment. My life has 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 this divine event that occurred tonight, I could erase all my accumulated pain.


*****


The following night another note was left on my bed by grandma.

“Querido Angel: Quiero mucho a Joy y a Sadie, y no necesito probarlas. Te has fijado que sus nombres significan 'Alegría y Tristeza'?” 

*Dear Angel: I love Joy and Sadie a lot, and I don't need to taste them. Have you noticed that their names mean 'Joy and Sadness'? (In Spanish, Alegría y Tristeza means ‘joy and sadness’ or Joy and Sad-ie.)

They had begun to call her ‘abuela’, and grandma loves it. 

Now, both of them will live a long life.



EDMUNDO BARRAZA
Visalia, Ca. 02-06-2012




XI
LIMBO



At the break of dawn, we made love again. I believe this is the summit of my life. My pessimism forces me to think that things can only go down from here, but I’ll try to stay here for as long as I can. Or maybe, I can alternate my ups and downs, without staying on the downside for a long time. I wouldn’t want to be the one responsible for destroying such a perfect union. I can be her puppy, even her slave. I can even try to end my murderous life. I never thought I could come so close to happiness. I won’t be the one who ruins it.

After Sadie went to her house to shower and change, we took grandma to church. My grandma looks proud, and I’m proud to be the cause of her pride. Sadie got her temporary license to drive, but we’d rather walk and push grandma’s wheelchair.

I watched grandma taking communion, and it occurred to me that I've never seen her in the confessional, her chair doesn’t even fit there. How can she confess? She can't talk! Maybe she makes a list of her sins at home, and bring it to church. I just hope she doesn’t mix my sins with hers.

Maybe the priest thinks she can’t commit any sins because she can’t talk. In any case, she takes communion every Sunday. I'm sure cannibalism is a mortal sin, especially if you own a butcher shop. I mean, you have no excuse, it’s not like you’re lost and stuck in the North Pole with a bunch of dead friends and nothing to eat. Plus she’s a witness and accomplice to several murders. I can still remember her facial gestures when she ‘called’ Ana Suarez “puta”.

I think her donations make her an automatic saint. I understand the reasons why I am a cold-hearted killer. But grandma doesn't have any excuses. She’s not ‘pulling the trigger’, but I think she's a little perverse too

As for me, when I come to church, I’m as mute as grandma. I don’t pray and I don't think. I have nothing to say. I don’t ask and I don’t give. I'm a sinner, but I’m not looking for redemption or absolution. I’m guilty as charged and I know my place is not in heaven or even in this 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. Now, let me enjoy the next twenty years and we’re even. In any case, I love grandma, and I know we’ll continue to be together, even after we die.

Before leaving, 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. Maybe, she's asking the Virgin for more fancy food on the dinner table. 

My grandma is 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. She’s a weak soul, but still, in times of need, she comes to my rescue. She knows the story of my life, she knows the reasons why I turned out the way I am. 

Perhaps, because I was concentrating on my own survival I know so little 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 was a sad day. We used to live in El Pueblito, a tiny little town outside Jerez, Zacatecas; 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. Every day was beautiful in that little town for an innocent adolescent girl like me. 

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 sad amazement, 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 just 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 and 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 mind. 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 have to give myself an opportunity to clean up my act. Shyness created my inferiority complex, and my dad's mental abuse created my erratic behavior.

I think I can compare a priest with a psychiatrist, they have the same objective: to help put your mind at ease and to erase your fears and wrongdoings.

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

To have your soul cleansed and renewed you need to be sincere with your priest without restrictions. It’s the same thing with your mind. You need to be genuinely open with your psychiatrist if you want to have a sane mind. But how can I confess my sins and crimes without expecting punishment? But even if I knew they wouldn't denounce me to the authorities, I wouldn’t dare to tell anybody about my homicidal record.

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

When she asked me to explain the reason I was there, I said that I had irrational thoughts, that my mind was in constant turmoil and chaos. I told her about my shyness and insecurities, but not about the heavy stuff of course.

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 what was 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, hitting her in the head with the over-sized crystal ashtray she had on her desk. But no, instead, I'm going to give her a chance, if she succeeds she’ll go on living, and if she fails she dies. It’s up to her. Her life is in her hands but she doesn’t know it.

She is in her forties, she looks professional and elegant. Everyone would assume how smart she is just by her looks. I've never seen women like her in my butcher shop or my AA meetings. The reason I’m here is to get rid of the absurd feeling I have, that I can destroy and kill anybody. I just want 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 injustice, discrimination, and endless wars for centuries, but he never intervenes. Obviously, he can’t help us because this is never ending. 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. I thought it was great having her next to me on 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 dad opened the bedroom door we found a guy with his pants down on top of Joy. He had Joy’s mouth covered with his hand, she had a look of terror in her eyes. She was just lying still. Then, my dad stabbed the man on his back. The knife went all the way in, and the handle was all we could see. That man was my dad’s best friend. 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 my 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 in the middle of Joy's chest. When I asked her about it, she didn’t answer and changed the subject.

Then Sadie continued, "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 my mom left, Joy quit school and started to work. She was sixteen years old, and I was twelve.”

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

For no apparent reason or maybe just because her story broke my heart, I told her about the events that happened on this 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. Some time later, before grandma's death, she gave all her jewelry to Sadie, all her letters and memories too. My grandma loved no one more than she loved Sadie, except me.

*****

My shrink begins each session with just a question, and then I talk for an hour. It's was a good therapy, like a massage to my mind. I don't have to worry about being judged or criticized. There's so much to tell, even if I don't include the crimes. But I can talk about mental wounds, trauma,s and deceptions forever.

“Of all the movies that 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. 

“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 my grandma. My grandma had been a real hero. Just like my dad had been a super villain, even worse than Nurse Ratched. Now that I think about it, my dad is the only villain that I hate.

“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 bloody suckers.”

I better control myself; she’s 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 want 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 know I fell into her trap, but I didn’t care.



EDMUNDO BARRAZA
Visalia, CA. 12-05-2012



XIII
FATHER FIDEL


When my dad died, I felt instantly liberated.

After I got rid of my father, my fears dissipated, and my ego got a huge boost. I was suffocated by his mere presence. I just couldn't be happy, or have any hopes. Getting rid of him empowered me and made me feel invincible.

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, although 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 my way. As the crimes 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’m in love with him too, but I just have a little doubt. He's an illegal alien if we marry he can become an American citizen. I'm not sure what he's after, me or a green card."

“How can you say you and still doubt his motives? I’m sure he loves you as much as you say you love him. And what if he becomes a legal citizen at the same time, there’s nothing wrong with that. I don’t think he’ll leave you after he gets his papers.” 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.


*****


The last few times I joined my grandma to church after mass was over; Father Fidel hurried down the steps from the altar to push grandma’s wheelchair. I couldn't tell if he was sincere, or if he saw a dollar sign on the wheelchair.

Our first customer of the day was Father Fidel. I knew he was visiting my grandma; he was still with her when I came to the shop. He must be in his early forties; he's short, a little on the chubby side, receding hairline. He rarely smiles. After I prepared his order, and before 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 at all 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. Still, that doesn’t bother me too much, all the properties and possessions we have, belong to both of us. But before things get out of control and grandma begins to sell our properties I’ll put a stop to all these absurd donations. From now on, all donations to the church will need two signatures.

Then Sadie continued with her comments, “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’s 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 said.

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 can confirm that he is abusing those kids. First of all, it’s a very serious crime, and we shouldn’t falsely accuse anybody. 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. It only transfers it to another location. I think priests are just like policemen, they protect each other to cover up their misdeeds. It would 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’m thirty-four and Sadie is seventeen, I've never considered myself a pedophile for several reasons. First, because she loves me, sex is consensual, and I'm not causing any harm to her, physically or mentally. But in the eyes of society, I'm legally a pedophile. And she's not 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.

He was thirteen years old; his name was Pedro, his family had been in Visalia for only three years. He said they had come from Mexico. He never told his parents about the abuse because he was afraid they would punish him. He said that he also 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 our minds he was telling the truth. The story was convincing.

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 this 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 recently was almost a saint to her.

On Wednesday, Father Fidel was proudly beaming when I invited him to join us for dinner the following Friday. I'm sure he thought we had a positive answer for 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. 

On Thursday, I went to the bank and withdrew thirty thousand dollars in cash. 

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 always greeted him with reverence, and I thought it was very antiquated and ridiculous. That’s probably why some catholic priests are so arrogant. My grandma kissed his hand anyway. I guess old habits die hard.

When Father Fidel entered our house, I knew he wasn’t coming out alive. I knew that for a fact.

I’m 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’m going to be a hero and a villain at the same time. My pleasure will be greater.

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 learning arts and crafts. They’ll be busy and won’t have time for impure thoughts,” 

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

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

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 in 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 for a second and hesitated to open the door. I looked at the clock on the wall, the shop had been closed for three hours. Father Fidel opened his eyes wide, maybe, hoping for a possible salvation. I knew I had to answer the door.

It was Pedro. How could this be possible? With the door ajar barely an inch, I told him to go 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 come in. 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.” 

My grandma was behind me when I opened the door. Then, Pedro turned around and quietly called his brother. Appearing out of the dark, he approached us with a knife on his right hand, his arm firmly tight against his right leg. I had to let them in; I had no other option. I told them how the priest had been deceiving my grandma, and that she knew he was a pedophile too. “Follow me,” I said, and then the four of us advanced to the butcher shop. A single line, I was pushing grandma's wheelchair, the brothers walking behind me. Four executioners heading for the gallows to meet the condemned priest. A medieval 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 now. 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 to him. Then. 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 this, could turn a young kid into a mature person in a short time. He would look at the world in a different way, he would be more cautious. 

The priest was unconscious, he was bleeding from his genitalia, but 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 felt so much hatred for this person, that I decided to work on him while still alive. As he was lying on the floor, I put a butcher’s block under his right hand, and cut it off with my machete. The unconscious priest, then sat up and lifted his right arm. Seeing no hand attached to it he fainted again. Then, I severed his head.      
I smiled when I found his missing organ in 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 plunger near his body.

Many people will miss him, they'll investigate his disappearance. 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 rapist, child molester, and pedophile, but nobody knew about it. It seemed that 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's possible that somebody knew where he was going, maybe somebody saw him coming to our house. But there are 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 stuff, to make sure there was no evidence of Father Fidel. 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 thought I should have taken it to church to have it blessed with holy water first.

This 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.

On Sunday, the second day after Father Fidel’s disappearance, he was on the news.



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 that their investigation would lead them to my house anyway.

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


I didn’t mention he was a pedophile, I’m sure they’ll discover that during their investigation. I didn’t give them any negative information about him. I never talked about him in the past tense, that might 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 that he might hire. This could be just a little distraction that could keep them away from my butcher shop. Grandma supported the entire version.

Of course, the money is in the house, and now I don’t know what to do with it. I might be able to make small deposits at a time, but for now, I’m stuck with that cash. 

I told the same story to Joy and Sadie. Either they believed it or were troubled with another possibility: that somehow 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 the whereabouts of Father Fidel, and the City of Visalia put up another fifteen thousand dollars, for a total of thirty thousand dollars. What a coincidence, the same amount Father Fidel had at the moment of his disappearance, ha!


The entire week Father Fidel was on the front page. Then one day, the police found Father Fidel’s ring in a pawn shop. Apparently, a homeless man 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.



 *****



I went to visit my shrink again, her name is Jennifer. She’s in her mid-forties. I like her style. She wears her dresses with grace,  and the smell of her perfume is discrete and subtle. 

Since we were interrupted in our last meeting by the following client, I decided to always have the last appointment. 

I still don’t know if the treatment is effective, but I enjoy our meetings. We talk about depressing things like phobias, obsessions, disorders, and other unpleasant mental dysfunctions, all my favorite topics. 

I know nothing about her, and she knows so much about me. Sometimes I think that I underestimate her professional capacity, and even regret having talked so much afterward. I shouldn’t call our discussions “conversations”, since I’m 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 seem to complain so much about your father . . ." 

“I'm sorry, but I'll never stop complaining about my father, but I'm definitely another person now."   
Having turned into a murderer to become a normal person sounded like a contradiction, but I know I’m turning into a normal person. Killing my father was the best thing I’ve done in my whole life.

“What would you do if he’d return tomorrow?”
-I’d kill him again- I really wanted to say what I was thinking, but I didn’t.

“It would never be the same, I would never allow it. I would never go back to be the person I was.”

After I said that, felt like a crazy person, because I knew he’d never come back, and still, I sincerely imagined he could. Deep in my mind, I wished he could come back. I’m sure I would kill him again.

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

Damn! I don’t know where she’s going with that.

“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” 

Damn! Where is she going with that?

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

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

“How old is your girlfriend, Angel?”

“Old enough.”

“How old, Angel?”

“I think she’s twenty. Why?” I lied again.

“I saw you with her the other day; she was pushing your grandma’s wheelchair. She appeared to be only 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.” she kept insisting.

“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 complete collaboration.”

“Okay.”

“Did you read the newspaper today, Angel? There was 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 the newspaper from under her desk, and she 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 disappeared also, Angel?”

My face was hot and probably red too, and I was sweating like a pig. I couldn’t avoid feeling guilty. I’ve never been good at faking or hiding my feelings. I felt like a child again. 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 if they were, I don’t care at all. I didn’t even know any of them.” I’m feeling trapped. I can’t compete with an expert, especially if she’s right.

“Well, Ana Suarez was your neighbor, she lived all her life right behind your house. And Leticia worked for you in the butcher shop. You’re contradicting yourself, Angel, there’s no need to be nervous. Oh, and another thing, about the homeless man who claimed to have found Father Fidel’s ring in a hamburger, didn’t you feed and 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 lived in the house next to mine, but we never talked to her, she was a recluse. And Leticia worked for me for a few weeks, but then, she went to Hollywood to look for fame and fortune, her mom knows about it. In any case, it feels like you’re accusing me, and it hurts me 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, and by the way, your improvements have been remarkable. Part of the treatment requires me to question your social behavior. I need to get inside your mind to know you better and be able to help you even more. About those missing persons, they’re just that, missing. If they don’t find the bodies, there’s no crime to follow. I just want you to talk to me openly about any subject. And if you know anything about those people, you should talk to the police. And one more thing, my intentions are to help you, not to hurt you.”

At that moment, 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 make love several times a week. Without a doubt, she’s been my savior and one of the main reasons my sanity is under control. I don’t know what I would do without her. Sometimes she helps me cook and stays for dinner. 

The day after my shrink shook me and crushed me without mercy, she made me realize about my fragile situation. Sadie also came out with some shocking surprises. After we closed the shop, she said that we needed to talk.

First, she said that Joy had finally accepted Pablo’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 if you go away, I’ll lose you forever. If you want we can get married. But you can’t go; my whole world would crash without you.” I replied with words coming from the heart.

“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 my mother to me, she’s better than my mother. 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. My legs were trembling; 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. Also, we've heard some rumors in the street about you and the disappearance of other people. They say that you were involved with Leticia, the young girl that used to work for you. They say she disappeared the day after she stood you up on the dance floor, the night you went with her on a date. They also mentioned a hooker and a thief that used to hang in the park, and some of them believe you had something to do with their disappearance.”

“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?”

Then, a terrible thought crossed my mind. At that moment, I knew I had lost her. She was a million miles away from me now. I wouldn’t dare to cause any harm to her. She was the love of my life, the only love I will ever have. I will always love her. But her love had disappeared too. I remember a thought I had when I was about to kill Leticia . . . guys like me could never be happy. God wouldn’t allow it.

“No Angel, the reason I’m leaving is to be with Joy and to go to college. Joy made me promise that after our mom left us. I never forgot about that promise. And to answer your second question, I don’t believe in those rumors. 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. And that made me immensely happy because we both knew that that night would be our only night together. And we cried and we made love, and we cried and we made love again. Sometimes simultaneously.




Edmundo Barraza
Lancaster, Ca. 11-08-2014




XVI
ANGEL'S INFERNO



Once in a while, I make a mental list of the most offensive and humiliating moments I had to endure from comments made by my dad. The reason I do that is to convince myself that if I got rid of him I still shouldn’t consider myself a monster. Or maybe to increase my hatred towards him and to never forget how much I suffered. Technically, I didn't kill my dad, 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 is to remind myself how much I should hate him and to feel less guilty about it.

I remember one time my dad, grandma and I were at the dinner table. Grandpa, of course, was absent because he had been pushed to his death recently from a bridge by a real monster in the Sequoia forest. 

During the course of the dinner, 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 should be used only on girls.”

My dad had no consideration about 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 an enormous respect and love for her husband. And yet, there he was, my father, dismissing my grandma’s husband, despising my grandfather, and rejecting his own father. 

And of course, I felt bad for myself. My 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 my dad, but my hatred was justified, and I’m not even mentioning that he killed my grandpa and my mom too. He robbed me. Things could have been so different if I had had a mother.

*****

In the morning Pedro and Abel came to the shop to tell me that some undercover cops were asking questions about some people that had disappeared in the area. The brothers said that I could be the 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 also said with resignation, and thus admitting my guilt “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 all 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 oppose or rearrange my fate. Deep inside I felt defeated and ravaged.

“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 now 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 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 don’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 the master of the universe, I was in control. 

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.

*****

This could probably be the last visit to my shrink, and unnecessary too. But this time, I had decided to be more communicative and blunt. In our last meeting, I shamefully ran away with my tail between my legs.

Finally, when I thought I had organized my mental disorders, when I found asylum in my own mind, when my tormented soul at last found peace, my evil actions had caught up with me.

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. After considering all the crimes I 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 were in a hurry to get out of my office?”

“Both, I think.” 

“Very well Angel, this time we won’t be interrupted, I guarantee you. We need to settle where you’re standing. 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. And I hope this is not the case. Now, tell me Angel, are you involved in any wrongdoings? Or (clears her throat) any criminal activity?”

“The reason I came to you, was because I thought I needed professional help, I felt my mind was a mess. Now, if you’re right and I'm a killer, then I could blame one of my multiple personalities, or I could blame you for failing your mission to cure me. You can almost be a co-conspirator, am I right?” I said.

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

“That’s nonsense Angel, you were deeply troubled before your treatment began. I don’t take the credit for your improvements, but nothing could change the past. If you were involved in the disappearance . . .  you know what? I’m going to stop saying disappearance, I’m going to call them what they are, killings. So, if you killed those people, you need to surrender to the police. If they find you guilty, you can plead innocence by reason of insanity. I would testify on your behalf and you can probably be sent to a mental institution instead of a prison. If you promise you won’t harm yourself, I’ll give you two days to settle your personal life, but if you don’t surrender, I would notify the authorities. Now, tell me how many persons have you killed?”

Again, we were interrupted by her assistant to let us know she was leaving. It was 5:00 o’clock. We heard when she locked the front door. My shrink and I were alone. I could see 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 outside 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 flesh.

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.     And the shrink. (I wonder if I should include a 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 office from downtown to my shop is around 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, my 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. Every night during the last week, she came to my room to give me a kiss good night, something she hadn’t done since I was ten years old.


Edmundo Barraza
Lancaster, Ca. Jun-15-2015





THE LUNATIC IS IN MY HEAD 
 Final Chapter





If I were God, the worst punishment I could give to 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 hurriedly writing the following 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; they were staring at us and moving in slow motion, undecided about their next move. I could sense all the tension in the air, things were about to explode. I pushed grandma’s wheelchair to the house. She had a stack of papers on her desk. The title on the first page simply said: “My will”. 
 
I knelt and gave her a hug and a kiss; I looked into her eyes for a second. All the feelings we had for each other had been clearly shared and expressed every day of our lives. Everything had been said before. Then, I grabbed my car keys and left.

When I left the house, the first person that I encountered outside, was Leticia’s mother. She had a furious look on her face; her lips were trembling when she said: “You killed my daughter, didn’t you? You killed her, you murderer, I know you did!” and she started to yell, “The killer is here! The killer is here!” the people in the park gathered and began to approach the house, but not fast enough. I jumped in my car and headed for the Sequoia Mountains. I could see the maddening crowd in my rear-view mirror, with their silent 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, because, if she had appeared years earlier, she’d been too young to be part of my life. It was pointless anyhow; the past can never be rearranged. Nothing matters anymore anyway because my past, my present, and and my future will collide soon.
  
I wonder if God is witnessing my end. I wonder if God is happy with this end, or if Satan is preparing for my arrival. I wonder if they exist. But I don’t care for either of them, After all, one never helped me and the other one never bothered me.

I feel nothing now, emptiness is a hollow feeling. My entire being is full of indifference. My life had been useless, I'm someone who should have never been born. I never found the reason to be here.

In reality, the turning point in my life was when my mom died. Losing my mom was losing my life. 

I arrived at my destination. I can see the bridge. It makes no sense having regrets or hopes. No one will know what my motives were or what pushed me to become such a monster. The world is not perfect, as long as bad parents exist in the world, monsters like me will always show up.

I can see from the bridge a line of patrol cars with their lights on, and their sirens blasting, the air and distance distorts the sound. They were howling like some of my victims once did, needlessly and in vain. Finally, I can say I’m happy. Standing on the outside edge of the bridge, grabbing the rail with my left hand, with my arm extended, and the gun in my right hand pointed to my right temple. And while looking to the sky, my last thought was that I had created my own heaven by creating hell for others. 

No need to ask for forgiveness.



Edmundo Barraza
Lancaster, Ca. Jan-20-2016