The Professional

“Yes?” I said, looking up from the paperwork on my desk.
“This came for you.” Jeanine was holding a large box. She handed it to me as I stood up.
“Oof! It’s heavy.” I said, setting it down on the desk. She left.

There wasn’t a packing slip, just a white envelope on which someone had scrawled my name. I opened it to find a letter on plain white paper, typed, complete with the station’s address and my full name and title in the heading.

Chief Inspector Rivers,

Find enclosed the head, lungs and liver of David L. Greenwood, of 324 Avenue des Pines Ouest. I have loathed David for as long as I have known him, and observed with disdain the foolishness, impetuousness and disregard for others with which he lived his life. That is why I killed him.

You will also find enclosed the murder weapon of said deceased individual, an unregistered Smith & Wesson Model 36, which with my gloved hand I pulled the trigger.

Though I have been informed by certified mental health professionals that I am incapable of feeling empathy, I felt it of importance to say the following for your sake: it is my hope that your department is able to locate and apprehend me in a timely manner, despite my assiduousness in taking every precaution to ensure they do not. This is because following this there will be 46 additional letters of a similar nature – I have compiled a list, Inspector Rivers, and on it your name is the 48th.

It is up to you to figure out why.


Ocean Boulevard

It was the usual carnival by the time I got there. The flashing lights, the mess of ambulances, firetrucks, and us, the boys in blue. The yellow tape held out the public like the velvet rope at a nightclub. Or maybe not. Maybe it was holding us in. I ducked under it and walked toward the center of the activity.

I saw Detective Eaves crouched down over the body, smoke floating slowly upward into the damp night air from the cig in his mouth. There was something about the way his body was, the way he hung has head, that even from a distance he looked scared. No, more than that – hopeless.

He stood up as I reached him and my earlier observation was confirmed. I’d never seen Eaves this shaken. Not like this.

“Christ Ted, look at this shit. Look at it. When was the last time we saw something like this?” He gestured down toward the body.

There was little blood, except around the low “V” collar of t-shirt, and at the neck. The head was gone, the neck ending in jagged cuts. Zig-zags. Dirty work. Looked like the guy had decapitated the poor sap with a fucking straight razor.

“22 years ago,” I said, lighting a cigarette of my own. Back in my first week on homicide. What a week that had been.

“I don’t like it,” Eaves said. “I don’t mind telling you I’m spooked.”

“Yes, it is a little unnerving isn’t it?” I said coolly. “The nature of this crime isn’t what worries me.” A cyclist sped by down the boulevard, rubbernecking at the scene.

“What do you mean?”

“I mean as usual, Detective, you’re looking in the wrong place. I’m more worried that whoever – or whatever – took off the head of our young friend here was also capable of that.”

I pointed, up and over the rows of emergency vehicles, toward the top of the closest streetlight pole, those unnaturally tall, unnaturally straight steel pillars that the city had made whatever artist so many years ago, and dotted the Ocean Boulevard at regular intervals. At the top of the pole, staked on the point like it was on display on the ramparts of a medieval castle, was the head of the body.

“He’s bragging,” I said, staring up through the fog. “This is a warning. There’s going to be more.”

The Grinder

Anton Krisanov. The press called him The Grinder.

We were finally able to track him down when he got sloppy. His last victim managed to cut him with a kitchen knife before she met her grisly end. The weapon didn’t fit his usual MO. We ran the DNA of the blood on the knife and bing-bang-boom – there he was – two counts of sexual assault in 1997. Then it was simply a matter of knocking on that Russian bastard’s door and paying him a visit.

Graves and I headed right to his place in the East End as soon as we found out.

Knock, knock, Anton.

“Anton Krisanov? This is the police! Open up!”

Bang bang, two shots through the door. One right into Graves’ neck. One a leaving a burning trail of exploding pain left of center in my chest, and me flat on my back.

I fought to remain conscious. The ceiling tiles blurred and melded into each other above me.

Then I heard the door creak open, and his footsteps, and a terrifying sound, the sound of an engine, of a machine with a spinning blade.

The sound grew louder and I heard Anton’s voice singing in a Russian accent:
I smell the blood of an Englishman
Be he alive, or be he dead,
I’ll grind his bones to make my bread

The Man on the Train

I stepped onto the deserted train as a lone passenger stepped off, a tall man in a trenchcoat.

Immediately the train lurched into motion and I nearly lost my balance. Hurriedly I sat down, then realized in my haste I’d inadvertently sat directly across from the only other passenger aboard.

No matter, my ride was short. But as the silver vessel carried us through the twisting tunnels of the underground I began to feel uneasy. The man was staring.

I shifted uncomfortably, and played with the cuffs of my coat. I looked up again. Still staring. I cleared my throat. But he did not look away.

This was getting awkward. Why? Why in this giant empty train did I have to sit down across from one of the creepy ones?

I stole a glance up from my lap again. Still the awful stare, eyes fixated straight ahead on me.

This was unbearable, I had to leave. Still five stops away from mine, I hurried off at the next, praying to God he wouldn’t follow. Thank God he didn’t.

The train pulled away and I sighed a breath of relief on the platform; never again. If I was going to come home from the city this late, from now on I’d take a cab. I didn’t want to get assaulted or murdered by some sicko.

The next morning I was horrified to find the man’s face on the front page of the newspaper. But my horror was even greater when I finally realized why he’d be staring. The headline screamed the truth at me from the page:



I find them where humanity pools. Nomads, far from home. Hookers. Drug addicts. Girls on the run from their family, their abusive alcoholic fathers or controlling mothers, not many years ago merely scared teenagers.

I give them what they need. I give them what they want to hear, and they come to me like a moth to the flame. It’s so easy. Ply them with drink and wait until it feels just right, until I can see the snare closing around their neck. They’re all flirtatious smiles and gestures because they found a stranger who makes them feel strangely warm inside, but they don’t know what I know – that they’re animals walking into my trap.

It’s awfully dark to walk home alone along the side of the road isn’t it? Come on, let me give you a ride, you’ll freeze to death out here. Reluctance melted by warm smile and good looks. Why don’t you come out back with me to my truck? I want to show the old 8-track player and we can listen to The Eagles. Resistance dissipated by that final shot of tequila we had. How about we go back to the hotel? I’ve got a bowl to smoke and more whiskey to drink. Trepidation gives way to acceptance and hedonistic desire.

They think they have a choice, but I know I’m in control all along. This is something I know in my mind but they never do – on some subconscious level they must be aware, but they never realize it.

This one is different. This one excites me even before then end, before the screaming and the crying, before her body turning cold as its warmth escapes into the night air. She kisses me hard and I can feel the fire inside her. She’s straddling me in the driver’s seat and I can feel it, feel its warmth burning with the one down below, the one she’s rubbing up against me beneath her black skirt.

I get harder when I think about what comes next, about the wrench at arm’s length in the backseat, and the sound it will make when it connects with her skull, that fleshly crack unlike anything else. I get harder when I think about her crying for mercy, huddled in a heap after she’s crawled into the backseat. About her begging me to stop, stop, please stop, when I’m completely in control, and I won’t.

She hikes up her skirt as she rubs against me, and I fumble with my belt and pants. Then I am inside her. Her blond hair is all around me and she’s so warm, and she’s making those little sounds.

I thrust into her and think about the wrench. So soon now, until just the right moment.

And then I hear a metallic click, and there is a sharp pain in my neck. I put a hand to my throat and feel the wet warmth of my blood gushing out. Pain, as she grabs the blade from my neck and stabs it into my chest over and over. I arch my back and I’m plunging deeper inside her as she’s plunging it into me. Finally I slump in the seat and the warmth of her is heavy upon me.

She brushes her long blond hair back from her face with a blood-soaked hand, and smiles wickedly at me in the dark. I can see the white of her teeth in the near blackness. She laughs.

“Silly boy, I’m not that kind of girl….”

Went the Chainsaw

ruhn ruhnnnnn went the chainsaw
out of its cardboard box brand new
with a wicked smile I made it roar
and cut my dog in two

reeean reeeeeeean went the chainsaw
said the girl, “I’m young to die”
“so unfair,” I laughed, in streams of blood
as i carved into her side

raaaawr rawwwr went the chainsaw
“I have a family!” the man begged
“I know,” I screamed maniacally
“and you’ll join them when you’re dead!”

reeeee reeeeeee went the chainsaw
in the mirror all alone
“why?” I asked my reflection
he said “you’ve always known”

ruuhn ruhhhnnnnn went the chainsaw
and I…. reeeeeee raaaarrrr ruuuuuuuu


“What’s in the bag?” I asked, stopping mid-step on the sidewalk beneath the noonday sun.

“Bonemeal,” Mr. Saunders said, still hunched over. “For the garden. Nothing else makes the plants grow like it. Hard to find good bonemeal these days though.” It was one of those large paper bags that you buy at the hardware store, the kind that come in packs of twenty and are as large as their less environmentally friendly black plastic cousins, and have catchy slogans and marketing messages printed on them in all dark green capitals letters in stylish font: SAVE THE EARTH BY THROWING OUT THIS BAG. Or, BROWN IS THE NEW BLACK.

Mr. Saunders was hacking away at the base of the tree with a hatchet, creating a tiny pile of woodchips at his feet and a growing triangular notch near the bottom of the trunk. The tree was bigger than a sapling, yes, but still smaller than an adult. He’d planted it some time ago with high hopes. But now hack, hack, hack went the hatchet.

“Damn shame about this tree,” he said reflectively, coming up to a standing position and wiping his brow. “Seems some kinda rot gotta hold of it.” The bark was coming off in blackened rigid u-shaped sections of varying length, joining the pile of woodchips Mr. Saunders was making on the lush green grass. “Doesn’t look like nothin’s gonna save it, not even the best bonemeal.”

“That is a shame,” I said, sauntering over from the sidewalk. “Sorry Mr. Saunders.”

He laughed. “Ha, it’s not your fault son,” He wiped his brow again. “Nature does what she will. I’m just trying to have some nice vegetation here on my property. Say, would ya mind going around back and fetching me my spade? I think I left it in the garden. Once I’m done here I’m gonna need it to dig all the roots out.”

“Sure thing, Mr. Saunders.” He smiled at me and I headed back around the side of the house.

As I rounded the corner of grey brick near the hanging coils of garden hose, I heard a horrible metallic snap. The most intense pain I’d ever felt shot up my leg and I cried out. Looking down I saw my ankle was bloody and the flesh was cut to the bone by a pair of rusted metal jaws. I had stepped into a bear trap, hidden in the grass.

“Mr. Saunders!” I cried out, tears streaming down my face. “Help! I’m stuck.”

And then my kindly neighbour came around the corner of his house in his overalls and he looked different than before; he held the hatchet low at this side and his eyes had this far-off look, like he was staring through me. I thought about how I used to see Sarah Fountaine walk past our house every morning to head to school, because she left a half-hour earlier than me, and how I never saw her do that anymore, not for the last couple months, though I’d thought nothing of it; or how our other neighbour Mr. Tran had always been puttering in his garden on the front lawn, with his fat wife tut-tutting from gray breaks of the front walkway while holding the metal and glass storm door open, but I hadn’t seen either of them outside their house in weeks.

Mr. Saunders walked towards me with the hatchet swinging low at his side, and I felt the teeth of the bear trap bite into my leg, and the blood coursing through my veins.

“Hard to find good bonemeal these days though, isn’t it?” he said, raising the hatchet. “Damn hard to find.”

Supply Run


“Shame about that girl,” said the clerk, swiping another item.

At the next till there was a crying child, an obvious product of poor parenting. It was clear from his mother’s hurried attempts to calm him who was really in charge. If it had been up to me I would have lit him on fire and drop-kicked him into the East River.

She was attractive though.


“Been almost a month,” the clerk continued, looking down from the droning newscast in the background. “Almost a month since the first one disappeared.”

“I know,” I muttered, still distracted by the unfolding drama between the mother and what was undoubtedly her bastard child.

Beep-boop. The last item, a pair of needle-nose pliers.

And then I heard it. I didn’t need to turn around. I knew whose face was on the television screen, bordered in a little blue rectangle above the left shoulder of the anchor.

Police have released a photograph of the suspect for the first time, and are asking anyone with information to come forward. As the number of missing women in the city continues to rise…

A frightened expression, a terrible mixture of dawning realization and growing horror, began to spread on the clerk’s face.

“F-fa-fa-fa-fa-fortynineforty.” He stammered.

I threw a fifty at him.

“Have a great day,” I said, and picked up the bag. I was pretty sure I had everything: pliers, hammer, saw, box-cutters, zip ties, duct tape.

The little boy was still bawling; his mother was going to be a while. I went out to the car, to wait. I had time to think about which one would be first.

You Always Remember Your Second

“Oh, you’re so mean!” she said laughing, as we strode out of the bar and into the cool night air.

She was tipsy now, not drunk, but all the giggly headiness that consecutive glasses of champagne bring on. I knew where we were going. I knew what the outcome of this night would be. Just like it had been before.

She lit a cigarette and blew smoke as we walked. “I live around here, you know,” she said. I know. “But I’m not sure I want to invite you up to my apartment…. it’s kind of messy.” She giggled again.

I laughed. “Oh my god, I knew it. You’re a slob, aren’t you?” I grinned roguishly and let her take my arm. “Now I’m definitely not coming up to your apartment.”

She was under my spell now. I could feel it. We walked through the sliding glass doors to the condo’s lobby and they parted magically for us like The Red Sea.

She pulled me onto the elevator and we kissed passionately. All I could hear was the sound of the doors closing and the blood rushing in my ears and the screams of the girl before her. She pulled me out onto the sixth floor and down the hallway.

“Gee, I’m not sure I should let you into my apartment,” she said, turning the key in the lock. The door swung open. “You’re not some kind of serial killer are you?” She laughed and fell against the closet.

I kissed her hard. The screams were louder in my head now. Not yet. I smiled. But soon.