With Ease, After the First Time
By: Tyler Duckworth

I never could’ve imagined if I tried, the amount of force it takes to crush a man’s skull with a bookend. The thrust alone carries you into the victim, through them. First you hit, then you follow through by stumbling over their lifeless body—dead maybe, living for just a moment longer more likely—as he droops to the floor.

He’s dead.

He’s really dead, and this is all my fault. No, it’s his fault. But it is your fault. You did this. This horrible thing. This thing that will surely send you to Hell for all eternity. This thing you’ll spend the rest of your—just say it—vacation days left on Earth, in prison for.

How can you worry about prison? You’re an awful person. You’ll have to live the rest of your life without a soul.

Blood goes everywhere, in everywhere. You try to clean up, but you never get it all. The cracks between baseboard and wall, the fabric of furniture, the fibers of the carpet. And what lands on you is worse. I showered seven times in the twelve hours that followed, and I was still dirty. Not some obsessive Poe-story symbolic filth, but actually dirty. Chew a nail, taste a little something sweet that was never there before. Sneeze, and it’s somehow gotten up your nose. It’s the worst thing imaginable. Of course, you think the guilt will be bad. You go into it knowing you’ll have to find a way to live with yourself afterwards, and so you do. You’re prepared for that. You deal with the guilt and get on with what you have to do.

But the tangible doing of the thing. The killing. The dragging of a mangled corpse. The bagging and double-bagging and triple-quadruple-bagging, all the while praying a police dog can’t smell what you don’t think you’ll ever be able to get out of your nose. But nobody’s listening to your prayers. And the body, you know, doesn’t begin to rot immediately. But the blood, released and flowing too freely to coagulate, just begins to ditch its oxygen like an Enron exec ditches stock, rapidly reeking like the back of a butcher’s. And it’s in your car. Through all the plastic, through the upholstery of your seats. Like it’s coming in through the vents, it’s so strong. And you can only pray they’ll never find the place you buried him because it doesn’t take a police dog to smell this. Even underground, where he’ll be in only twelve more miles, eleven, ten. Nine.

Eight.

Time mellows to a halt like you’ve seen PBS footage of how they make syrup. Bleeding the tree to death.

But even underground. You know they’ll smell him.

If they find him.

But the spot you’ve picked, hikers go there. They won’t even have to smell; they’ll see the hole you’ve dug. The dirt you’ve kicked, the branches you’ve scattered, it just never looks right. Goody-fucking-two-shoes Mother Nature won’t ever just be cool.

Be cool yourself.

Chill.

Ice in your veins like there’s nothing in his. You planned. It will rain before dawn so hard that Noah himself couldn’t navigate his way back over your tracks.

But only if it rains.

Shut up.

Over and over again, you tell yourself to shut up. Your parents would’ve washed your mouth out with soap by this point, like they never would with kids nowadays. Those little shits you always hear running their mommies down at the mall because she wouldn’t let them have a gumball. I’d kick that kid in the face so fast if I owned them.

That’s good. Your mind’s off the subject of the murder. The murder. The murder. “Think about something else,” you say over and over on the drive out to the country. “But it seems so wrong to dwell on inconsequential minutia when I’ve just done what I’ve done.” Not even guilt. You tell yourself to turn it into something else. Turn it into the strength of a Nitzchean Superman. “Stupid bitch head cheerleader, prom queen bitch Pauline McKael would’ve never had the balls...”

You feel like an asshole talking out loud. Talking to yourself with those ears in the trunk. They can’t hear you, but neither can photos. Or dogs really. But you always feel like a jerk talking to yourself in front of those.

Then you get there. Not even sure where there is. It’s the woods, alright, right where you intended, but you didn’t want to know exactly where. You still don’t. This way, you’ll never find him again. You won’t get caught out like a fool returning to the scene of a crime. You couldn’t lead them back to this particular patch of earth if you tried.

And you go for the shovel. Or the body. Which to remove first? The corpse is going to stink up your car that much more with every second you wait to pull it out. Which is inconvenient—inconvenient?—it’s more repugnant than that roast beef sandwich Paris Hilton calls a vagina. But it’s also a clue, isn’t it? Then again, what bigger clue could there possibly be if somebody were to happen by before you finished the hole and there’s a body laying out beside your car? That’s a good question, jackass. Maybe a bigger clue would be the woman standing in the middle of the woods at night, digging a trench in high heels.

Got to get rid of these heels. It’s true what they say about how heels were invented by a man. They were invented for men, actually. To keep feet from slipping out of stirrups—another male-for-male invention I could do without.

Where the hell is all this coming from?

Take the body out. Dig the hole. Now I get why it’s bad to be on a chain gang. This is impossible. And it tricks you. First, the ground is soft. Then, after a foot or two, it’s hard-packed, solid. And then you consider, would anybody really notice if you just buried the body...

Nevermind.

Through the night. Naturally, the sky gets lighter before you’re as deep as you wanted to be. But what are the odds anybody just stumbles upon this spot anyway? Or that they link the murder back to you? You covered your tracks well enough. At least you will have if you get the hell out of here before sun comes up.

Yeah, just throw him in. That’s the only option now.

Luckily, filling the hole back in is less work than digging it out. But not by a lot. Holy shit, there’s a lot of dirt here. More than you took out, it seems like. Your arms hurt now. You must be coming down from the rush. You haven’t felt anything but high for the past six hours. And now there’s pain?

That’ll piss you off.

And it does. Kick the dirt, scoop it with your hands. Wait. That makes you more obvious.

More obvious than fucking Lizzie Borden, which is what you look like now?! You brought a change of clothes anyway. Just get the dirt back in the damn hole.

Which you do. And you arrange. There’s a little mound you try to pack down, but it’s somehow more obvious that way, so you stop. Add pine straw. That looks real. But just sprinkle it, like a tree would.

Close.

Close enough for punk.

Get in the car and drive back. You were smart enough to fill the tank before all this started, so you wouldn’t have to stop for gas and be seen by all the world, spotted in the flecks and smears of not nearly what he had coming for being a cheating, lying, prenuptial agreement-signing son of a bitch in the first place.

But it makes you feel smart.

And that makes you feel empowered. Like the Nitzche thing all over again. And your thoughts turn back to slut-ass Pauline McKael.

And her little dog too.

“You better lick my recently-widowed ass like it’s a cocaine lollipop when I see you at the reunion next month, you dirty clap-founding skank,” I say to the clear pink sky because now there’s nobody to hear.

“I’ve killed before.”

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