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First pages

Chapter One:The City of Angels

Retaliation for the president’s assassination was swift. Waves of jet fighters and bombers headed to the City of Angels. Mechanized anger filled the air.

~*~

“Blue Leader, descending to one mark four thousand. Over.”

“Copy. Smash 1 in radar contact tally-ho.”

“Check high low. No bogeys.”

“Blue Leader. Smash 1. Roger.”

“Smash 1. Bulls-eye one-one-six, seventy-six now. Twenty thousand. Over.”

“Smash 1. Copy.”

“Blue Leader. Two clicks in trail. Closing.”

“Changing radio frequency.”

“Smash 1. Copy.”

“Smash 1. Visual on target.”

“Roger so far.”

“LAAFB sighted.”

“Roger that. Steady.”

“Blue Leader to Smash 1. Prime air to surface JDAM.”

“Wilco. JDAM primed.”

“Green light that.”

“Roger. Dropping egg. Over.”

“Blue Leader. Copy. Target splashed.”

“Breaking off now.”

“Lima Charlie.”

~*~

 The run was short and straight. Major John Laurence pressed the toggle at seven in the morning. A single bomb fell through the clouds. Colonel Butch Warfield, the pilot, took back the controls. It took less than a minute. A brilliant white flash slashed the Los Angeles sunlight. Red flame mushroomed a mile high over the air force base at El Segundo. An expanding circle of death took thirty- two thousand lives in an instant.

“Like shooting fish in a barrel,” the colonel said.

“That’s it for Pacifica’s 61st wing,” the major said. “And more. Let’s go home.”

~*~

 Nine hundred miles to the north, Billy Johnson had his eighteenth birthday.

 And then the murders began.

 

 

Chapter Two:The Grub

“You’ve a boy!” the doctor said. Charlotte wanted a girl. She yearned for a girl with the fire of a thousand suns. Charlotte wanted to give to her daughter a love that eclipsed her mother’s hate. But now she has a boy. Charlotte wept bitterly.

Poverty, violence, hunger, and fear blighted Billy’s early years. Charlotte treated her boy with scorn. She told Billy when he was a toddler that he had a twin brother Timmy. Charlotte said that neighbors abducted and cannibalized his brother. Billy drank a bottle of kerosene when he was one. It gave him convulsions for the next two years. Billy never heard the words “I love you”. He remembers the fights between his parents and his dad’s hanging attempt when he was four.

“Why should I cuddle you when it’ll just make you a fag,” she said. “No girl will want you. I don’t want you. I hate you.”

Charlotte gave birth to Estella a year after Billy was born.

~*~

Billy and Stella’s dad Jack was a phantom. He was weak, remote, cruel, and abusive.

Jack had affairs with other women. Stella once walked in on him while he was having sex with one of his mistresses. Jack slapped her out of her hysteria. Jack said she was imagining it and drugged her with pills and vodka.

~*~

Blame it on a grub. It crawled one sunny July day along the stem of a maple leaf, gnawing as it went. It nibbled through a stem. The leaf fell to the ground. Of the twenty thousand leaves on that tree that fell by October, a child pressed it under a book. Her teacher hung it on a kindergarten wall. The class admired it as a miracle of nature.

Another miracle of nature happened when that small caterpillar became the Actias luna, one of the largest butterflies in North America, with a wingspan of almost five inches. It fluttered amid the bushes in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. The butterfly mated and then died one week later.

A caterpillar is an eating machine. Before it became a pupa, it continued to devour stems and leaves. Yet one more leaf fell to the ground. That set into motion the fall of dominoes that led to the Second American Civil War with its ten million dead.

Billy was a placid child. But the grub changed all of that. It nibbled the stem of a leaf. The leaf fell. It decayed into mush. One autumn evening, Billy slipped on the rot. He toppled forward and gashed her forehead. The fall damaged Billy’s frontal cortex and with it his impulse control. He became aggressive and hostile. Billy had headaches, blackouts, and depression. He cried constantly. And, when he didn’t cry, he moaned, whined, and barked.

With a belly swollen from hunger and wearing homespun clothes, Billy fainted at his first day at school. Bullies taunted him until he vomited. They called him Turtle for his shuffling walk or Pee-Wee for his size or Smell for his smell. Billy often wandered away from home. He would hide from the other kids and, when they found him, they would pelt him with eggs, dunk his head in a toilet, and pull his pants down in front of the girls.

Billy’s hate festered— and then exploded. Billy killed their dogs, cut off their heads and stored them in a cooler. He started fires in the garages of his tormentors.

Billy gave up going to school for good after a month. On his final day, he stole the spike-heeled shoes of Miss Bertha Samuelson, his teacher, leaving in their place a handful of pennies.

~*~

 On Stella fell the treasures of whatever resources her parents could grasp. Not for a minute did Billy forget that. It seared his soul. It fanned his fury.

~*~

“Get out!” Charlotte shrieked. “Get out of my house!”

She shoved Billy into the dusk.

“And stay out!”

Billy fell into a snow bank. The door slammed. He could hear her mother rant at Stella. Tears and blood stung his eyes. Billy trudged into the night.

Later that night, Charlotte stuffed Billy’s pajamas with rags and made a pillow head with pin eyes and a red grin. She put the mannequin in Billy’s bed. Charlotte made Stella kiss it. She made her sing at his bed that night and every night.

 

Lullaby and goodnight, thy mother's delight

Bright angels beside my darling abide

They will guard thee at rest

Thou shalt wake on my breast.

 

 Stella missed her brother.

 Was Billy dead?

But she faced the same mother Billy faced, a bellowing slab of a harridan.

 

~*~

But Billy was not dead. He survived not on the kindness of strangers nor on the motions of grace. He survived with hustle, guile, and a hard heart. Billy lived in closets, basements, and alleys. He stole, lied, and cheated to stay alive.Billy built his body. He also built his mind by spending hours in the local library. Billy learned to think and to plot.

~*~

Charlotte fell into psychosis. At night, while in restless slumber, demons whispered in her skull. Charlotte believed that her appliances were bugged, that she was in a computer program, that the Freemasons were stalking her, and that the Drug Enforcement Administration had put a device behind her left ear. Scratches and sores covered Charlotte’s face. She pulled out her hair and teeth. Charlotte painted hearts on the bathroom mirror with her blood.

 

Chapter Three:Randy and Stella

Hand in hand, Randy and Stella raced across a sunlit meadow. Randy caught Stella. They tumbled laughing into a puddle of light in the grass. They were both seventeen and they were on fire with the fever of longing for each other.

Stella was pretty, foxlike, and insouciant. Her brunette hair tumbled to her shoulders. Randy was arrogant, swarthy, and squat. The both had wrap-around sunglasses. Tattoos snaked and squirmed on his arms and legs and chains decked his neck. But Randy found room in his heart for Stella. It was a relationship of opposites but based on the warmth of love and the lust of their loins.

The summer breezes swept over them as they gazed at the clouds, luminous and puffy floating like barges on a lake.

Randy put her hand on her belly while Stella ran her fingers through his long, black hair.

“Say, what does that cloud look like?” Stella asked.

“An idiot.”

“Harsh. Maybe clouds look down at us and say: Hey look, that one’s shaped like an idiot.”

“But I love you anyway. Won't you be my valentine?” she asked. “I’ll be thine!”

 Randy, for all his roughness, also had a romantic streak.
“You’ve given me a forever within my numbered days,” he said.

 “I love it when you’re schmaltzy,” Stella said. “I’m not sure you mean it. But that’s OK, as my little poem says.”

 

My heart that broke so many times
And always in a different place
Has mended been—as many times—
Repaired without a trace
And just because it looks so new
Your fingers itch to break it too
I don’t care greatly if you do—
The next in line has mending glue.

 

 “I’ve met my soul mate,” Randy said.

 “And who would that be?”

 “Well, if I bring roses home and the keys don’t fit, I know it’s not you.”

 “That’s no way to talk to a lady.”

 “I hate to break it to you, but you’re no lady.”

 “I’m in fact a chaste and pure lady.”

 “Hah! But you are the prettiest chick I know.”

“All I know is that girls want you and guys want to be like you.”

“But I want you and like you.”

 “So shut up and kiss me anyway.”

 And he did.

“You’re too good to me true,” Randy sang, to Stella’s amusement, since he couldn’t sing a note.


I can't take my eyes off you
You'd be like heaven to touch
I wanna hold you so much
At long last love has arrived
And I thank God I'm alive
You're just too good to be true
Can't take my eyes off you

 

 They watched the clouds scud across the sky.

 “Hey, I wrote a poem,” Stella said. “We’ve been together for one year. I wrote it to mark the occasion. Want to hear it?”

 “I guess so.”

“It’s called ‘True Love’ because our love is true.”

“Whatever.”

 “Here goes.”

 

Please be kind to me

Please kiss me

Ah

Yes

Ah

No

Oh, oh, oh

Oh I love you

Oh I want you

Oh

Ah

Ah

Oh

I love it

I love it with you

Yes, yes, yes

No, no, no

Oh, oh

Oh!

 

“Well, what do you think?”

“I’m not sure,” he said, cautiously. “I like poems that rhyme.”

“Oh and no rhyme,” Stella said.

“It has lots of small words that make a graphic mood. So I guess it’s fine.”

“Well, try writing verse sometime. It’s harder than you think. Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way …”

Randy had heard the joke before.

“When you criticize them,” they both laughed, “you’re a mile away and you have their shoes.”

“I’ve a question;” Randy said, wanting to change the subject before their banter went south.

“Sure.”

 “You haven’t told me much about your family.”

“Because I have no family.”

“Well, you’ve mentioned your brother. Where’s he now?”

“How do I know? He went to Oregon. Billy may be in a Blue squad. Or in a Blue jail. Not sure. And, frankly, I don‘t care.”

“The Reds. The Blues. The Whites. A country split into three, each fighting each other like a bunch of grade school kids. How did we get into this mess?”

“Damned if I know,” Stella said. “Not my circus, not my monkeys.”

“What’s Billy like?”

“Horrible. He’s unhinged.”

“I take it he’s a piece of work.”

“Yep. A bad seed.”

“But he’s blood. Why is Billy your mortal enemy? Your hatred for each other is epic. Like Cain and Abel.”

“I guess it goes back to when we were at Rosewood,”

“Rosewood?”

“The home. A warehouse for orphans. They had to put us somewhere. And so that’s where they put us. What a freaking horror show.”

“We were seven and eight. Cute as buttons.”

“So what happened?”

“Stuff. Bad stuff. But I don’t think about it any more. I don’t live in the past.”

Chapter Four: The Home

But Stella thought about it a lot. She closed her eyes and went back to her seventh birthday.

~*~

Wendell Montgomery Kingsfield, esquire, pushed a piece of paper towards the girl.

 “Sign this,” he said.

Charlotte signed it. And, with that, the law office of Anderson & Guest transferred her kids to the Schiffs in the Orphan’s Court of Philadelphia County, “wherefore petitioners pray your Honorable Court to enter a Decree appointing the said Richard Theodore Schiff as guardian of the persons of William Theodore Johnson and Estella Ann Johnson.”

~*~

The village of Rosewood takes on the aspects of a Victorian painting at Christmas time, with streets lit by luminaries, and skating and caroling. The painter Andrew Wyeth captured the mood of Bucks County in his tempera paintings with its frosty, pale, slanting three in the afternoon late fall lights and textures, sycamore trees, and ancient barns. A row of mature oaks, pines, and spruces marked the path of the gravel road that entered the estate. The brisk autumn wind sent cascades of gold and red leaves across the grounds of what the orphans called the Big House. The orphanage was a 1850s Georgian mansion on a country farm of ten acres of rolling pastures. The walls were white with the green shutters that are common to older homes in the county.

The Big House was in a state of dust and decay. It had peeling paint, broken marble, water damage, and the funk and canker of death and faded grandeur. Slaves built the home on the bones of slaves. And the blood of slaves watered the furrows of its fields and pastures. The estate had an air of multi-generational degeneracy, with each decade and each year and each night and each day slathering yet more layers of grief. The thrum of predatory sexuality beat deeply and darkly, like the vibrato of a cello. The face of the house had four windows. They had the clouded eyes of the newly dead and a front door that was an open-mouthed scream.

“The Big House reveals whatever you’re afraid of and a fugitive from— and it shows your fate,” Dick Schiff told the kids.

~*~

 Stella heard Uncle Dick’s steps. The stairs creaked. His silhouette appeared against the night light in the hall on the third floor of The Big House.

 “Now I lay me down to sleep,” Stella heard.

She also heard Billy weep.

“I pray the Lord my soul to keep.”

The springs of the mattresses protested as Schiff went from one bed to another.

“If I should die before I wake,” he said.

Stella felt his hands travel her body.
I pray to God my soul to take.”

Tomorrow they would go down those stairs to breakfast after the morning bell. Uncle Dick would ask one of the kids to lisp a prayer before they spooned their porridge, his face a mask of innocence.

Chapter Five:Rats’ Feet Over Broken Glass

Billy hated girls. He coward punched eight year-old Pauline McLeod, wrestled her to the ground, and almost strangled her until a teacher found them.

Billy relieved his migraine headaches with night-prowling raids to steal women’s shoes. Billy would often wander from his home where he would molest girls.

Billy had a red Schwinn. He used it to satisfy his compulsion to wander and to molest. Billy rode the bike to the far reaches of the city. He fantasized about leading a razor gang of five hundred invisible boys on bikes. Billy called it The Brotherhood.

~*~

Billy beat thirteen year-old Ivy Hosling. She died a week later. The police arrested the fifteen year-old. A judge sent him to a psychiatric ward at Belmont Behavioral Health Hospital.

Doctors found that his fantasies revolved around his hatred for his mother.Billy would take pictures from women’s magazines. He scribbled over their eyes until they became big, black circles. He slashed away at their chests and torsos with red markers.

“They say I’ve got no morality,” Billy said to Dr. Evelyn Smith, a hospital psychiatrist. “That’s a fair assessment, because my morality is whatever the system allows."

“One thing about dead people— they’re all the same.”

“I don’t call them people. I call them logs.”

“Oh, how do you solve a problem like Billy? How do you hold a moonbeam in your hand?”

“Life is a joke that’s just begun. So is death.”

“When I see a pretty girl walking down the street, I think of two things. One part of me wants to take her out, talk to her, be real nice and sweet to her and treat her right. The other part of me wonders what her head would look like on a stick.”

“Yes ma’am. I’m two people. Billie is on the left side of me and Millie is on the right side of me. One day, Billie will kill Millie. And won’t that be a hoot?”

“Yeah, I rob people. I call it getting paid. But I only hit crooks. Why rob a straight guy for twenty bucks when I can hit a drug dealer for twenty Gs? It’s a public service.”

“My life’s goal? To perform experimental surgeries to create an army of obedient zombies.”

"My greatest fear was that mother would find out. She was my biggest fear. I didn’t know if the police would let her at me."

“Remorse? Why? It wasn’t her night.”

“Victims of the night will always be with us.”

“Why is this stuff coming at me? I don’t understand.”

“It was more fun in hell.”

“I’m not stupid. I know that most crimes are never solved and, for those that are reported, most are never solved. If I’m caught, it’s not me. It’s luck.”

“Did it occur to you that there is inefficiency in questioning me about something you’ve already made up your mind?”

“I wish a bomb would fall on this place and kill everyone."

“You tell me you found a dead girl. I hope you found a pretty dead girl.”

He looked evenly at Dr. Smith and began to recite details about her children that no one should know. Billy never threatened Evelyn. He merely listed off her family’s secrets in detail. But then he said "If I went ape in here, you'd be in a lot of trouble, wouldn't you? I could screw your head off and place it on the table to greet the guard." Terrified, Evelyn ended her session and passed off his care to Dr. Robert Tkachenko

“William Johnson is slight in build, polite, neat in appearance, eyes bright and wide open, worried facial expression, sometimes screwing up of eyes, walks briskly and erect, moves rapidly, darts ahead, interested and questioning constantly in conversation,” Tkachenko wrote. “He has Born to Raise Hell tattooed on his neck. On his right knuckles are the letters LOVE and on his left HATE. He tattooed two black tear drops below his right eye. He has little capacity for self-control. Johnson has no friends. He plays occasionally with younger children. With teens, he is boastful and expresses unacceptable ideas.”

Tkachenko noted that Billy suffered from various physiological problems that he attributed to childhood brain damage. “Johnson has a schizoaffective disorder. He suffers from a borderline personality disorder with sadistic features.”

“Symbolic matricide,” the doctor wrote, “born of resentment to his mother.”

“It is my judgment that he suffers from acute schizophrenia with paranoid delusions and feelings of depersonalization. Johnson is a cold-blooded, predatory psychopath and an intelligent, charming liar with a preposterously grand superiority complex, revulsion for authority, and a need for control.”

“Johnson’s behavior patterns are consistent with malignant narcissism with borderline and antisocial features, along with some paranoid traits, and unconstrained aggression".

Billy underwent psychiatric therapy and personality-breaking drugs, such as sodium amytal, methedrine, and dexamyl. He responded badly to these treatments. Billy engaged in homosexual acts and exploited his fellow inmates, who were dumber and saner than he was. Billy convinced inmates that he had contact with his mythical group The Brotherhood. To be initiated, inmates had to give him cigarettes and sex.

~*~

Dr. Smith closed Dr. Tkachenko’s office door.

“Let’s talk turkey about Johnson,” she said. “I’ll give you my assessment.”

“Sure,” Dr. Tkachenko said. “Let’s see if we align.”

“We can agree that Mr. Johnson has severe antisocial personality tendencies. His disregard for laws, social norms and the rights of others, his failure to feel remorse, and his tendency to show violent behavior tells me that he’s a textbook sociopath. He lacks the subtly and charm for being a psychopath.”

“What is so terrifying is his ability to blend in, to feign normality at will. He is homicidal chameleon.”

“I would say that Johnson isn’t so much psychotic as he is rational and aware of what he is doing and why. His behavior is the result of choice, freely exercised. Johnson’s anger comes not just from his family dynamics but also from a superiority complex that seeks to punish the entire human race for its inferiority. Johnson sees people as we see lice. He exhibits patterns of grandiosity, contempt, and a lack of empathy.”

“Is he a monster or a victim?”

“Both are the right answer.”

“He slips on other masks with ease if he needs to,” Tkachenko said. “Johnson can be agreeable and charismatic. But it’s as if he was an actor on stage, saying lines that’ll get what he wants from his audience. Theatrical is another way to put it.”

“William Johnson is broken, deadly, and incorrigible. He should be incarcerated indefinitely,” Smith concluded.

“Agreed,” Tkachenko said. “I’ll have the guards stencil on his ward door the words Extreme Precautions. He’s not going anywhere.”

~*~

 Stella fell in with a bad crowd doing bad things in a world of rats’ feet on broken glass. She had a rap sheet that included reckless driving, assault, felonious menacing, public intoxication, violating probation, and shoplifting.Stella developed an eating disorder, settling into a pattern of binging and purging.

She became hooked on drugs and became a sex worker to support herself. Stella exposed to drugs at home when she was thirteen. She became addicted to drugs and confessed to scamming prescription medication from dentists with her aunt. Stella was caught with drugs and was released from state custody after completion of a substance abuse felony punishment program. Stella had also once been gang raped, severely beaten and cut with a knife. She dropped out of school when her eating disorder developed into anorexia.

Stella and Billy had shared delusions, sparked by flashbacks of childhood abuse. Doctors had determined that they were vulnerable to mental illness, sustained by their use of amphetamines. Their behavior was consistent with amphetamine intoxication with restlessness, hyper-vigilance, anxiety, and anger.

Stella was sent to Silver Hill Hospital in New Canaan, Connecticut. She said that she heard voices. Stella said that she had died and was in hell.

“There’s nothing like the laughter of a baby,” she said, “unless it’s one in the morning and you’re all alone.”

“I can’t move or breathe or speak or hear and it’s dark all the time. If I knew it would be this lonely, I would have been cremated instead.”

.“My daughter won’t stop crying and screaming in the middle of the night. I visit her grave to ask her to stop, but she will not.”

The doctor scribbled in her file: “Anxiety rules Miss Johnson’s world. Panics sweep her, doubts and fears smother her. At age thirteen, Johnson is shopworn and a suicide threat. Guilt is constant companion. Stella feels pulled and cheated. Her thoughts are random and chaotic. But they resolve themselves so innocently that she seemed more frolicsome than frightened. A malignant narcissism burdens her. Psychosis cannot be excluded. Prognosis is poor.”She attended life management, anger abatement, and meditation classes and got sedating injections.

Stella’s anorexia improved as did her sanity.

Chapter Six: My Angel

Charlotte died of breast cancer. Filled with loneliness and remorse, Jack became a recluse. He died an alcoholic in a gutter in front of a luxury hotel clutching a racing form.

 With the death of both parents, the Johnson children had money. They had more money than they thought was possible. Stella and Billy used some of that money for lawyers to emancipate themselves and clear their records.

 Billy moved to Salem, Oregon, where he bought a condo. He loved boxing and decorated his bedroom with drawings of his favorite athletes. Billy was always polite to friends and never rude to strangers, all of whom said he was sweet but shy.

 At 20, a Baptist minister sanctified Billy’s sex life with grape juice when he married Angel Wuornos. They danced as the DJ played Billy’s song.

 

Girl, you're my angel, you're my darling angel

Closer than my peeps you are to me, baby

 

The Johnsons settled into a leafy Salem Oregon suburb. These were days of normality, but Billy continued to live in a twilight zone of psychosis. He was a ticking time bomb of degeneracy.

 Stella was slowly able to pull her life together. Her existence was a life that was filled with heights and depths, lights and shadows, joy and sorrow, grace and horror. Stella moved to Boston. She excelled in science, history, and English. Stella finished high school with honors.

Chapter Seven: The Intern

Randy broke the spell of Stella’s reveries. “Whoa, sister! You’re making no sense,” he said. “You were a druggie, a drunk, and mad as a hatter. Suddenly, lo, you’re an honor student?”

“That my parents were a mess and that my brother was a psycho and that I had done bad stuff didn’t touch the inner me— my will and my brains. I’m not trusting. A lone wolf. A rebel with a cause— pure hate— an insatiable drive to take revenge on the whole pack of curs and traitors that made my life a living hell. But all the elements were in place for me to transcend that and banish the shadows of Rosewood. I just needed the spark.”

“Which was?”

“Some teachers who believed in me. I’d have been pretty pathetic without them.”

“For example, my social studies teacher Emerson Delzingero urged me to submit my essay “The Moral Imperative of American Capitalism” for a national civics contest. I worked so hard on it.”

“Of course you know what happened next. It caught the eye of Congressman James Stokols, from Chicago.”

“Yeah. That’s where we met,” Randy said. “At a reception.”

“You were arm in arm with Stokols’ daughter Tanya.”

“We squabbled. She left in a huff trailing obscenities after throwing beer in my face. Nice.”

“Our eyes met,” Stella said. “We knew it was just a matter of time when our bodies would meet.”

“I was glad to move on from Tanya.”

“How did you meet Tanya? She seemed so … so …”

“Uptown? I think the poor little rich girl was tired of living a sheltered life. Wanted more bad-boy thrills.”

“And you delivered?”

“And how. But you’ve got no need to be jealous. She wasn’t a sex-crazed love kitten. More like a pillar of ice. She was a candle in the wind— nothing more than a fling.”

“Wind…fling. Hey, maybe you’re the poet.”

“Maybe. So, what did you do for Stokols?”

“Answering calls, mainly. Booking flights. That kind of stuff. But once James … ”

“James?”

“We go all go by first names in the office. He’s a good egg although bald and ugly and fat. Anyway, once he saw I had a knack for writing, he put me to work on speeches. And then James ran for the presidency. That’s when I got my first big break.”

Chapter Eight:The Butcher

 

Billy’s started his carnage. He mutilated his victim’s eye sockets. Billy would lure them to secluded areas. He used a variety of ruses, usually formed by talking with them, such as offering to show them a shortcut or with candy. Billy would overpower them once they were alone, tying their hands behind their backs before stuffing mud into the victims’ mouth to silence their screams.

~*~

 The devil danced on the roof of the home of fifty-year Teresa Robinson as Billy struck again. She bought groceries at an Albertson’s store and walked back to her apartment. Billy approached Teresa who asked to use her telephone. She agreed and the two went into her apartment. Once inside, Billy asked Teresa for money, but she refused.

Billy tried to take Teresa’s money by force. The two struggled. In the course of the fight, Billy grabbed a cast iron skillet, a steam iron, a hammer, a paring knife, a butcher knife, and two forks and used them to stab Teresa. Billy stabbed her nearly sixty times. As Teresa fell to the floor, dying, Billy shoved the base of a lamp five inches down his throat, choking her.

Billy searched Teresa’s purse and took $400 in cash. After showering, Billy found the keys to her Cadillac Escalade. He drove off into the night. Billy spent the evening using Teresa’s money to buy cocaine.

When they found her, Teresa’s nose was pushed in. She was bleeding from her eyes and her ears were purple.

~*~

Billy continued his harvesting. Karen Criswell was the next to die. He removed her clothes and then redressed her. The police found two bite marks — one on her calf and the other on her cheek. They found Karen in the bloody trunk of her car. He ritualistically scattered pennies near her body.

~*~

“I noticed that a girl of about thirteen was coming behind me, holding the leash to a puppy,” Billy wrote in what he called his death slayer diary— postcards from hell that were his way to savor and re-live his horror.

“She was cute, with a pony tail and an hourglass figure. I slowed down and let her catch up to me. We walked together beside the woods. I started talking to her about her dog. She said she was going home from the store. I pushed her off the road and grabbed her by the waist and dragged her into the woods. I pushed her onto the ground, tore off her clothes, and lay on her.”

 “I bound her hands behind her back. I initially inflicted shallow knife wounds to the chest before inflicting deeper stab and slash wounds—fifty or so in total—before eviscerating her.”

“I became adept at avoiding the spurts of blood from the package. I would sit or squat beside it until her heart stopped beating. Her cries and agony relaxed me.”

“I gouged out her eyes. I did that because my image is left imprinted upon her eyes. I tasted her blood. That gave me chills. I stripped myself naked, drenched myself in blood and mud, and bit off her tongue. I ran around the body in a frenzy howling as I held the tongue aloft.”

“The TV gave me her name today. It was Susan Quarles. RIP, Suzy Q.”

~*~

“Have you ever seen chalk outlines that small?” detective Clinton Carpenter asked, as he peeked under the shroud.

“The smallest coffins are the heaviest,” detective Sydney Cairo replied. “He slaughtered them. He butchered them.”

“The savagery tells me that we’re dealing with a group harvesting organs to sell for transplants or the work of a satanic cult.”

“Or one seriously sick animal.”


AUTHOR Q&A

About me

I was born in Australia and live in Arizona. I'm curious about just about everything and enjoy writing about just about anything. I want to keep this flame of curiosity burning by continuing to write quality fiction.

Q. Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp?
A.
The first theme is how we try to emerge from the shadows of young confusion. The second theme is the shadows of abnormal psychology. The third theme and the back story of Red Mercury Rising is politics, where evil and tragedy so often is the shadow of good.
Q. Where did the idea for this book come from?
A.
The serial killer John Wayne Gacy killed two of my wife’s acquaintances. A life lesson for me is that there are pleasant people who can hurt us.
Q. Tell us about the cover and the inspiration for it.
A.
The cover is an image that tells part of the story of Red Mercury Rising. However, I'm seeking help from the Kickstarter community to get a cover that better reflects the themes of this novel.

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