Jason and the Argonuts
I heard about it from a coworker who thought it was a joke. Had seen it on an internet message board. Found it hilarious. I don’t. I’m certain I know what’s really going on. What’s hiding in plain site. And I want to see it for myself. Seems that most people who’ve come across it just write it off as kids messing around. After all, who would take this sort of thing seriously? If somebody were to do so, goodness knows there might be a pretty big mess.
Follow the directions I found online to this place called Joe’s Pizzeria. Find the brick oven. Press a secret button. The oven changes form. There's a mahogany door. I descend a stairwell, which opens into a small basement room. There are a number of chairs arranged in a circle. Four of them are occupied.
Without making it too obvious, I try to determine the safest place to sit. Across from some hipster with a pencil-thin mustache, I see a pair of identical, androgynous twins. Both wear identical jogging suits. A few chairs to the twins’ right sits a Native American looking fellow in full headdress. He stares blankly at the wall, making a slow chopping motion with his right hand. I take a seat closer to mister moustache.
Well, this is it. There's nothing to do now but wait.
A few minutes pass in almost complete silence, save for some giggling on the part the twins. Suddenly, the basement door swings open. In walks a portly redheaded man, wearing a neon yellow shirt and green cargo pants. He smiles and waves to everyone, then sits down next to me. I try to ignore the stench of what I believe is asparagus.
“Well, I see we have a new face here tonight!” He exclaims; “Always happy to see a new face!”
He looks at me and I realize it’s time to do what I came to do.
Breathe in. Breathe out.
“Hello, my name is Dan, and I’m a serial killer.”
“Hello, Dan,” the group responds in a collective droning voice, resemblant of worshipers at Catholic mass.
“Yes, hello to you, Dan!” the man in the yellow shirt huffs out, getting to his feet. “It’s splendid that you are able to join us. I’m the group leader, Jason. Welcome to Serial Killers Anonymous!”
I simply stare at him. I have no idea what to say.
“Okay, first and foremost, I want you to know that even though you’re new, I trust you like I would any of our more established members. Call me crazy, but I think we’re all in this together! So, it should go without saying that what happens in this basement stays in this basement. All members are prohibited from discussing group with outsiders, except when promoting the idea that it’s only an internet gag. Also, to help newcomers feel more comfortable, I like to share my personal history with them right off the bat, along with how it relates to the founding of this group. Once I’ve finished, one of our older members, I suppose it will be Mark, will tell the story of how he came to join us. And after that, you’ll get a chance to speak, if you choose to do so.
“Now, as should be obvious, I am a recovering serial killer. The news media referred to me as the Coat Hanger Killer. I was credited by our local Olympia County police with the murders of twenty prostitutes. In reality, though, there were a half dozen more. And there’s no telling how many more women I would have killed if I had not confronted just what it was that drove me to commit such atrocities and dealt with it.”
I return to my seat and it hits me...this man is the Coat Hanger Killer? The Coat Hanger Killer, also known as Hanger-Man to true crime aficionados, was a hero of mine when I was younger. He got the name because he was known for inserting straightened coat hangers into his victims’ vaginas. After the Coat Hanger Killings inexplicably stopped, authorities presumed Hanger-Man to be either dead or incarcerated for other crimes. There’s no way he could be this ginger with the loud shirt.
“I was born out of wedlock to a teenage mother,” he continues. “Raised in a strict Christian household. As a naturally rebellious person, my mother resented her puritanical upbringing and began engaging in promiscuous behavior at an obscenely young age. She thought it would be liberating, but her sleeping around led to an unwanted pregnancy It is not even clear who the father – my father – might have been.
“Well, my mother wanted to get an abortion. And knowing how desperate she must have felt, I cannot blame her. But when she went to a clinic, she learned that legally speaking, minors are not allowed to decide such things on their own, which lead to my being born. Mother was less than thrilled about this. In retaliation, she became more promiscuous than ever. And it did not take long for her to get pregnant again. However, this time, she decided to take matters into her own hands –’’
The narrative is interrupted when one of the twins suddenly blurts out,“With a coat hanger!” This elicits some chuckling from the other, which dissipates upon a severe look from Hanger-Man. He continues speaking.
“Yes, that's right. She went into the bathroom and after what must have been a grisly spectacle, my mother was no more. And there’s no denying just how much this damaged me. I spent a good deal of my childhood crying alone in my room, thinking about my mother’s licentious behavior. Thinking about her death. It absolutely tore my mind to pieces! To pieces! And eventually, all my obsessing over promiscuity and coat hanger abortions led me to become the Coat Hanger Killer.”
All the true crime books I’ve read dealing with the Coat Hanger Killings suggested that the killer did not hold himself in high esteem, which accounted for his tendency to violate his victims with an object so lacking in circumference. It's amusing how wrong they seemingly were...unless there’s some oedipal thing going on here, which wouldn’t surprise me.
“I was utterly consumed by my desires.” he continues. “I obsessively thought of new ways to ****** prostitutes and not get caught. Yes, the sad truth is that my entire life revolved around serial killing for a number of years.”
He stops talking and stares up at the ceiling, letting out a deep breath, apparently orchestrating some sort of dramatic pause.
“When I finally realized that serial killing had taken over my life, I knew I had to change. And I did. And you can change, too!”
At that, he looks at me with pleading puppy dog eyes. This man, who has taken at least a score of human lives, is now using the cutesy approach in an attempt to establish a connection with me.
“Do you want to change?”
“Yes,” I lie.
“Then let’s get to it! Let the healing begin!”
And it begins.
The moustached man rises from his seat.
“Yeah, I’m Mark You all know me, except for the new guy. I’m Mark and I’m a serial killer.”
I mouth along as the group drones its greeting.
“I don’t wanna be here, but I don’t have a choice. If I don’t go to these meetings, my wife says she's gona leave me. See, this one night, I had just finished up with something I saw in a Ranch Burger parking lot. Wound up getting caught by my wife, stuffing it under our bed! I like keeping my finds under there after I’m done. It helps me get my rocks off when I’m nailing the old lady. Trouble is, before you know it, the body starts to stink. Then you gotta toss it. Good thing my wife has asnomia! Anyway, I almost had the whole thing hidden, when she comes in the bedroom. I didn’t even realize she was in the house! See, I was having some trouble getting the head underneath the bed frame, 'cause this one, lemme tell you, this one had a huge ******’ head. And my wife, she starts screaming and ****. Says something like, 'Mark, tell me you aren’t shoving a corpse under our bed! Please, tell me you aren’t!’ So, I told her I wasn’t.”
Mark’s witticism leads to raucous laughter from the twins, again ended with a severe look from Hanger Man. I stifle a yawn. The Indian remains impassive. Our orator continues with his narrative.
“I’m glad you guys find it funny, because my wife sure as **** didn’t. She fell to her knees and started crying. I swear, if there’s one thing in the world I can’t stand, it’s to see that woman cry. Breaks my heart. Except all of a sudden, she stops crying and starts screaming about how she knows what I’ve done and wants a divorce! So, I go up to her, put my arm around her shoulder, and tell her how sorry I am. Then I promise I’ll never shove another body under the bed. She asks me if I mean it and I say yes, figuring that’ll be the end of it. But then she starts begging me to swear that I won’t even score anything anymore. That I’ll quit. Quit for good!
"Well, I’d do anything to make my wife happy, right? So, I kiss her on the forehead and tell her nothing bad like that is ever going to happen again.
“But I’ll be ****** if the very next day I didn’t start getting that old itchy feeling as soon as I woke up. It was so strong I just couldn’t ignore it! Knew I was gonna have to score something soon as I got the chance. Of course, being so desperate, I wound up snagging this ***** that was all fat and gross at some supermarket. I did my business, then drove home and decided to leave the body in the garage, because I thought my wife never went in there. But go figure, she just had to pick that night to go ******’ exploring! Winds up seeing me ***** ******’ the ugliest, grossest, fattest score I ever made in my life. It was embarrassing, you know? Especially with how flat-chested my wife is.
“Anyway, to my mind, I had sort of kept my promise. I mean, I wasn’t putting anything under the bed, was I? But she didn’t see things like that. Just ran off in tears. Went right upstairs and locks herself in the bathroom. I eventually talk her out, but get the silent treatment for a couple days. Eventually, when she’s finally willing to talk, she tells me about this group. Says I go or else she’ll pack her **** and leave.”
“Excuse me, Mark,” Hanger-Man interjects, “but you are misrepresenting the character of your marriage! At last week's meeting, while you were occupied in the bathroom, your visiting wife revealed very much indeed about how you really treat her!”
At that, one of the twins decides to speak at length.
“Hey! Our dear leader isn’t going to let you get away with lying about your spouse, you know. Why, I bet he likes your wife so much, he wants to stick a coat hanger up her ****. After all, that’s the only way of showing affection he really knows.”
Both twins again erupt in laughter, this time so strongly that they fall out of their chairs. Hanger-Man leaps to his feet and begins chastising them for their lack of respect, which only seems to cause them to laugh even harder. Sensing failure, he throws up his hands in frustration and apologizes to me for not getting to my story, then announces that the meeting is to end early due to Nat and Richard's unruly behavior.
I wonder which one is which, but my interest fades. I head to the exit. Walking past Mark, I hear him talking to himself. Think I catch him say something about his “***** wife leaving,” before he sits down and buries his face in his hands. It occurs to me that a group of serial killers meeting in the secret basement of a pizzeria is strange enough without one of them bringing along his wife.
Open the door and head up the stairs. A man with flour on his hands, who was not here when I arrived, watches me coming out from behind the brick oven. I’m sure I see him wink as I leave.
Five minutes pass. I am standing in front of Joe’s, having decided to take a taxi home rather than walk. I'm trying not to stare at the Indian, who's situated next to a woman who'd been waiting outside in a **** nurse costume. He rests on his haunches, slowly rocking back and forth, still steadily chopping away at nothing. Everyone else from group has departed, the twins notably in a chauffeured limousine, whose driver bore a striking resemblance to Gene Wilder.
I feel uncomfortable. Perhaps I should try to make conversation.
“I’m pretty tired. Hope a cab comes soon.”
A grin appears on the strange man's face, which seems to stretch all the way back to his ears. The tomahawking stops. I wonder what would happen if I were to reintroduce myself.
“My name is Dan, as I said inside, but I think I should make a more formal introduction. It’s a pleasure to meet you. I’ve never met a Native American before.”
“Chief Killing ******, round eye. Pleasure is all mine. And the reason you haven't met any of us is because there are not that many of us.”
A taxi mercifully appears.
“Yes, you’re right. See you next time, Chief.”
All alone in my apartment. I can find no reason not to give in to myself.
Down the stairs. Make my way through the vestibule and onto the street. Experience love at first sight with the anorexic looking woman standing on the corner of Seton Place and Ocean Parkway, waiting for the R-13 bus. Approaching her, I get aroused. Ask for the time. She turns to speak with me. I pretend to examine the bus schedule. I have not looked a woman in the eyes since I began ******* at the age of eleven.
She tells me the time and I thank her, then quickly turn away so she will not notice my arousal. Our brief conversation replays itself in my mind until the bus comes.
We board and I sit as far away from her as possible, trying to position myself in such a way that my ******* will remain unseen. I wonder what stop she’ll get off at. I’ll get off there, too.
Our stop happens to be 2nd Street, between Peters Avenue and Chambers. My ******* has subsided. I am able to rise from my seat without concern. She exits from the front and I from the back.
Hide behind a minivan. Peer around it and see her enter a nearby apartment complex. She lives right here. As she fumbles around in her handbag looking for the right key, somebody wearing a U.S. Navy “Fear the Goat” baseball cap storms out of the building, slamming into her. She loses her balance and falls. The man continues on his way. He reaches the corner and turns out of view. She stands and regains her bearings, giving me time to ready the handkerchief and chloroform that I always keep with me.
Soak the handkerchief in chloroform.
Look to the left. To the right. Nobody is coming. Dash out from behind the minivan and head for my patient, who is just now opening the door.
Before clasping the rag over her mouth, I realize I have not planned our session very well. Where will I take her? Will we be seen? It doesn’t matter. I’ll think of something if the need arises.
After a brief struggle, my patient slumps over, dropping her keys. I bend over to get them, trying to cop a feel on the way back up. Enter the building and head for the nearest apartment door. Suspect it will be hers.
I keep her arm over my shoulder. Hold her by the waist, keeping her semi-*****. The feeling of having her limp by my side I can barely describe.
Now we’re almost there.
I feel the rudiments of an ******* forming as I lock the door behind us. Home sweet home.
We have been in her bedroom for long enough to prepare for our session. I gaze at my patient, supine and unmoving. Seeing such perfection makes me lose control. Open my zipper, reliving each moment of tying her wrists to her bedposts. How I bound her with old, unwashed *******. ******* I found balled up, forgotten under her dresser, just waiting to be sniffed. I start jerking myself off. And this, I believe, means our session is ready to begin.
"Well, to start things off, why don’t you tell me a little bit about yourself? Just whatever comes to mind."
“How about your your name?”
“What do you hope to get out of therapy?”
“Where do you tend to purchase your feminine hygiene products?”
“Do you generally get along well with your family?”
“What is your favorite color?”
"What’s your favorite word?"
“Are you perhaps feeling a bit uncomfortable at the moment?”
“Do you find me attractive?”
“Assuming you no longer do, at what age did you stop believing in the tooth fairy?”
“Can you name a word that begins with the letter ‘s’?”
Stop mid-stroke. My patient has not yet moved a muscle, made a sound, nor otherwise offered any response. Perhaps it’s not surprising that she would show so little trust in her psychotherapist.
"If you are going to be this uncommunicative, there is no reason for our session to continue. Good riddance to whatever is lurking around in your id; I see that I have no choice but to terminate our relationship."
Shove my ***** back into my pants. Hands won’t stop shaking. Stumble out of the bedroom. Out of the apartment. Onto a quiet, empty street. Still shaking. Head for the bus station, but can’t make it halfway there before feeling on the verge of collapse. Make a detour into an alleyway. Fall to my knees. *****. Curl up on my side and my mind slips away...
Apparently, time passes. I find myself standing in front of my place of employment, the Pointer Funeral Parlor. Grasping the doorknob with my handkerchief, as I can't stand to touch it with my bare hand, I open the door. Head in. Immediately see the old man, Mr. Pointer, the owner. He approaches me. As I put my handkerchief away, he shakes a newspaper in my face.
“Singer!” You know the news about that ****** downtown?”
“Look at this paper!”
He slaps the newspaper into my chest.
“Somebody smothered a woman to death with a rag soaked in chloroform. Used so much that her heart crapped out. They found traces of it in her nose and throat. Seems she died pretty quickly.
“But guess what? She came from a loaded family and we’ve got her! Sam’s downstairs with the body right now. Probably almost done.”
“I am aware of what happened, Mr. Pointer. I knew the girl. She lived just a short bus ride from my apartment. May I go downstairs? I’d like to pay my respects.”
The old man eyes me suspiciously.
“That’s what funerals are for. I pay you to keep this place tidy, not ogle the clients.”
“I will have to sterilize the embalming room when Sam finishes, anyway.”
The old man gestures around the room, “What about all the garbage here that needs to be cleaned up? I can’t have my place of business looking like an embarrassment.”
“Shouldn’t take longer than a moment, Mr. Pointer.”
“Make sure everything is immaculate! I don’t need a custodian who is unwilling to do his work. I know what you're up to. Did you think that I’d believe your story about knowing the client?”
“She was…something of a casual acquaintance. I did not know her very well. She was not in the habit of opening up. A quiet sort of person, really.”
“Well then your grief shouldn't hinder you in performing your duties here as my employee! I swear, if not for the fact that there just aren't many people lining up for jobs cleaning funeral parlors, I’d have fired you years ago. Now get to work. You can do the downstairs later.”
Mr. Pointer scowls at me and takes his leave. When he is out of sight, I make my way to the basement.
“Dan Singer! You little snake in the grass, what are you doing down here? Don’t you have work to do upstairs?”
“Your grandfather said I could take a break and see you.”
“Ha! I’m sure he did. “
Samantha rushes in my direction. She smells strongly of formaldehyde. I pretend to find the odor unpleasant, so as to be able to look around the embalming room as she approaches me.
“I’m so happy you’re here. I could use a little break, myself.”
My eyes settle on the body of my former patient, which rests on a table on the far side of the room. Everything else seems very far away.
“…I don’t know why I ever got into the profession of ******* around with dead bodies. Stupid family business. It’s gross. Well, I do tend to enjoy the macabre. But the way you Jews handle things is far better. Just put the corpse in the ground. Be done with it. I know you haven’t been religious since you left your family, but…”
Our session seems as if it had taken place a lifetime ago. It's almost as if it couldn't have been real at all.
“…And the fact that I’m stuck working for my grandfather is just one more pain in the ***, you know? He really is one stereotypical grumpy old man. Hey, Dan? Hello! Earth to Dan!”
“Oh, sorry about that. I’m a little bit distracted. I was a friend of that woman over there.”
Samantha’s voice takes on an almost annoyed quality.
“You were? I’m so sorry. A close friend?”
“No. More like casual acquaintances, really. I just find it strange that she'd wind up here.”
“Pretty ****** up, isn’t it? So many young women disappearing, or plain turning up dead these days. It had me on edge for a while. Remember a few months back when that lady disappeared from the Ranch Burger? I eat there all the time! Couldn’t believe it. Thank goodness I read about that goof serial killer group. Helped me laugh about the whole thing.”
“I’m sure whoever thought it up must be a real character.”
“Oh! You should totally check out the site it was on, if you haven’t. Didn’t I send you an email with the link? I forget the name offhand. With the Slinkee logo. It has all sorts of weird ****. There was a great joke on there yesterday. Something like, ‘Did you hear about the guy who liked to play Russian roulette while *******? He really shot his load!’ Ha!”
I force a smile.
“Samantha, don’t ever let anyone tell you that you don’t have a great sense of humor.”
She seems very pleased and smiles back at me, drawing a bit closer.
“Uh, Sam. What are you doing?”
I turn toward my former patient, looking for help. She is in no position to offer any. “Dan, are you all right? You don’t need to be so shy when I’m around. We’ve known each other for years. I know that you're upset about your friend. You can talk to me about it, if you want.”
“I'm sorry, but I don't.”
“Well, if you do, you know where to find me. Anyway, I’m going to take a trip to the restroom upstairs, then speak with my grandfather. Maybe you can say goodbye to your friend while I’m gone.”
“Oh, yes. It was nice chatting with you, Sam.”
“Yeah, you too.”
Samantha fusses with her hair a bit and heads to the stairs.
Up the stairs.
The basement door closes.
Rush across the room. Within seconds, aroused and exposed, I empty myself over the face of my object of affection. Fumble about in my pocket for the handkerchief. Clean her nose and mouth. Run to the stairs. Out the basement. Out the building. This is the last time I will ever pass through that door. I do not even think of looking back.
The Golden Fleece
It's that day again. On my way to group. I have not returned to the Pointer Funeral Parlor since reuniting with my patient. Samantha has called me several times and left messages inquiring as to my whereabouts. Mr. Pointer has called once and informed me that should I not return to work, I can consider myself fired. He seems to not have considered the possibility that I might have quit.
Approaching Joe’s Pizzeria, I see the twins. They are engaged in what appears to be a lively conversation.
“You see, ****, here’s what it is. I fear death just slightly more than I hate life. That’s what keeps me from offing myself.”
“We all appreciate that you're hanging in there.”
“Oh, *******. I’m glad you can find satisfaction being a nabob trust fund baby, but I’ve never given enough of a ****.”
“I employ my position in a number of ways that enhance our fine city’s cultural standing.”
“What? You mean like giving money to museums and the opera? You think anybody cares that you’re a patron of the farts? Opera only exists so that fat Italian guys can get laid.”
The twins stare at one another for a bit.
“You know, I appreciate the arts. Really, I do. I once stuck my **** in a copy of Hamlet.”
“Yes. Your copy, in fact.”
“Then I stuck it in a copy of Othello. After that, Hamlet just wouldn’t do it for me anymore.”
Both twins are overcome with fits of laughter. After the better part of a minute, it subsides.
“Ah, Dan. Good evening to you.”
“Off anyone recently?”
“Oh, don’t put it so boorishly.”
“Even my sibling reads the Times.”
“There was a great story recently.”
“A crime story.”
“A woman was found dead in her apartment. ******* all *****-like to her bedposts with her underwear. Nothing was taken and the woman hadn’t been sexually assaulted. She hadn't even been undressed. She'd simply been given a fatal dose of chloroform.”
“How strange so much information would be given in the paper.”
“It is curious, indeed, ****. But this is a strange world and these are strange times. And I’m willing to bet that our friend over here has been contributing to the strangeness of things. I mean, this chloroform killing was quite obviously not done by us.”
“We prefer little boys.”
“No. You prefer little boys. I also like little girls. And I have to endure as best I can our monotonous and boring escapades. Ours, as you know, is an associated effort.”
“Little girls irritate me.”
“Well wouldn’t you want to ******* **** them, then? Ugh. Brother. Anyway, we know we didn’t do this last ******.“
“And it certainly wasn't Chief Killing ******. He’d have made a far bigger spectacle of the thing.”
“So, since Jay’s no longer active and leaving bodies behind isn't Mark’s style, that leaves you.”
“It might have been somebody from outside of group,” I suggest.
A half smile spreads across one of the twins' faces.
“What! Are you denying it? Why the **** would you attend a serial killer support group if you aren’t going to dish out all the greusome details of your ***** deeds?”
“Some things are best left private,” I respond.
“Yeah, like a *****’s privates?”
One of them chuckles quietly.
“Hang on, are you intimating that our friend was unable to perform sexually?”
“I think he was limp as the left side of a stroke victim.”
“Oh, was that the case, Dan? Were you unable to attain arousal?”
“I do not want to talk about this.”
“Oh, of course you don’t. I wouldn’t.”
“Well then, about what would you like to talk? We do so love making friendly chit chat, you know.”
“Nothing. There's no time. Group is about to start.”
“Oh, he's right. We should get heading in. I bet Mark has some great stories about his **** of a wife for us this week.”
“I am certain that he does.”
Wondering why I even came back for another meeting and strongly wishing that I were not in the twins' company, I enter the pizzeria. They follow closely behind. We make our way to the basement.
Everyone from last week's meeting is present, along with an excited seeming man. He wears a grey fedora and grey trench coat, under which he appears not to be wearing any pants.
“Welcome, welcome!” Hanger-Man exclaims in greeting. “We've all been waiting for you, but me especially. I must make a very important announcement! We will not be having regular group. Sadly, this means that Dan will not be able to tell us his story. Sorry, Dan. Still, everybody please be seated, so that we may begin.”
Everyone takes a seat.
“It is so wonderful to have the whole lot of you here. The twins. Mark. The Chief. Dan. What a splendid group! Truly, just the sort of people I think I need to begin the first stages of a wonderful project on which I have been working with my very good friend Marvin. Say hello, Marvin.”
“Hellooo, Marvin!” exclaims the guy in the trench coat, waving his arms above his head.
“Really enthusiastic guy, isn't he?” sneers Mark.
“I find his enthusiasm infectious!” retorts Hanger-Man. “And I am certain that you all will as well, once you hear a little bit about what he and I have been planning. You see, I have always seen our meetings as potentially being much more than just a support group for individuals sharing our particular affliction.
“So much more! You guys don't even know the half of it!” Marvin exitedly chimes in.
“That's exactly right!” exclaims Hanger-Man, giving a thumbs up. “For you see, given my personal history, I knew I could help others overcome their murderous desires. After all, I was able to overcome my own. However, I realized that beyond simply assisting people in learning to control themselves, it would be better to also focus their energies in a new direction. Yes, to focus their energies in a new, profitable direction! For what I envisioned would function not merely as a support group, but as the core of what can only be called a great exercise in entrepreneurship! Isn't that right, Marvin?”
“Yep. Jason used to talk to me all the time about how he had these wonderful ideas, but lacked the people he needed to put them into action.”
“Excuse me!” interrupts one of the twins. “But just who's this Marvin guy, anyway?”
“I was wondering the same thing, myself,” adds the other.
Hanger-Man slaps the palm of his hand to his forehead.
“Ack! I suppose I should have made a proper introduction, what with the sensitive nature of our dealings here. Well, you see, Marvin is an old friend of mine. We grew up together. The two of us lost touch as teenagers, but rekindled our relationship a few years ago, after bumping into one another at an upscale cat house in Las Vegas.”
“I was there to **** a ******,” explains Marvin. “I'd never ****** a ******. Always wanted to, but never had the chance.”
He looks around the room as if hoping for a sign that someone else might share this particular interest. Not finding one, Marvin sighs.
“I'd seen a TV show where a guy went to Vegas and was able to **** a ******. It's how I got the idea.”
“Hey, whatever floats your boat, Marv!” shouts one of twins, barely able to refrain from laughing.
“All right, all right,” says Hanger-Man. “As I was trying to explain, Marvin and I wound up reconnecting after many years of not having seen one another. It took no time at all for us to pick up our friendship right where we had left off. And even though I was a bit wary of doing so, I found myself admitting to him that I, his old friend Jason, was the notorious Coat Hanger Killer.”
Marvin solemnly nods his head.
“It was a bit of a shock.”
“I know it was, Marv, but you took it in stride.”
“Excuse me!” again interrupts a twin. “But why the **** isn't this guy wearing any pants?”
Marvin, apparently embarrassed by this remark, attempts to adjust his trench coat so that it will hang lower below his knees. It doesn't.
“Enough!” erupts Hanger-Man. “No more interruptions! I'm trying to tell a story, here!”
He scowls at the twins. They adjust themselves in their seats and cross their hands in their laps, each smiling mischievously. Hanger-Man clears his throat, then resumes his tale.
“All right, it was not too long after my confession to Marvin that I began to reflect upon what I'd been doing with my life. I suppose finally opening up about my activities to someone else allowed me to also be more honest with myself. I searched my soul and was able to trace the origin of my behavior back to what had happened with my mother. Not too long after that, I abandoned serial killing. Yes, Marvin was the catalyst for my abandoning serial killing.”
“I was very proud of you,” says Marvin. “It was a big change to make.”
“Indeed it was, my friend. But I was able to make it, thanks in no small part to you. And so, after forsaking the murderous path on which I was traveling, I began contemplating what I next wanted to do with my life. And it was at this time that I first began to develop the idea of forming our group.”
“We started discussing it, you see, over drinks at a return visit to the ***** house,” adds Marvin. “Jason told me that he wanted to do some outreach. I told him it would be a great idea and everything picked up from there.”
“It occurred to me,” continues Hanger-Man, “that the group should encourage its members to focus their energies on something other than committing murders.”
“You mean that entrepreneur ****?” asks Mark.
“Entrepreneurship, yes,” answers Hanger-Man.
“Jason had such a great idea, I immediately signed up,” says Marvin, “and I think all of you should as well.”
“Signed up for what, exactly?” Mark asks him.
“A no fail money making opportunity!”
The twins look at one another, grinning. Mark's face lights up.
“Well, ****! I could use some extra cash,” he says. “I need to buy a taller bed frame.”
Hanger-Man smiles in elation.
“I think, Mark, that this might be just the thing for you!”
“Well, how's it work?”
“It's quite simple, really” explains Marvin. “You first join the program, which Jason has named 'The Golden Group,' by paying an initial fee. Then you convince others to join. With their payments, you begin making back your original investment. When the people you recruit begin finding new investors, you get to collect on what they earn. So, as time goes on and more people join, the money just rolls right in!”
“Stop! Hold it right there!” cries out a twin. “You're trying to get us involved in a pyramid scheme!”
“Why, you scoundrel!” shrieks the other.
“Now just a minute, guys,” whines Marvin. “You have not even heard us all the way out.”
“Nor will we!” say the twins in unison. They clasp hands and rise from their seats.
“Hey, what gives?” asks Mark. “You telling me that this whole time we've been here, the group was really some scam?”
“That's right,” says a twin. “Jay and his friend have been waiting for enough people to arrive so that they could begin fleecing us all out of our money.”
“Come on, now,” pleads an offended looking Hanger-Man. “If I were really trying to do something like that, why wouldn't I have just targeted the two of you? You’re so well off that I'd imagine you have more money than everyone else here combined will see in their lifetimes!”
Chief Killing ******, who has been sitting silently throughout the meeting, suddenly springs to his feet and cries out at the top of his lungs. Everyone in the room looks at him. He shrugs his shoulders and walks out as if nothing happened.
“What the **** was that?” Mark wonders aloud.
“Who cares?” snorts a twin in response. “My sibling and I are out of here, too. Let's beat it.”
The Twins bow toward Hanger-Man. Before he can make an attempt to dissuade them from leaving, they turn and begin skipping away. I hear them laughing as they make their way up the stairs.
Hanger-Man tells them to wait.
“Will somebody explain to me what the **** is going on?” Mark demands. “This group's seriously just some scam?”
Hanger-Man looks at him pathetically.
“No, no, there's been a misunderstanding, Mark. Only a misunderstanding, that's all. Perhaps I should not have invited Marvin to sit in tonight. I thought that with the recent addition of Dan, the time had come to introduce everyone to my greater plans.”
I have had enough. Stand and rush for the door. Head up the stairs. Hanger-Man and Marvin yelling at me all the while. Exit the pizzeria and light a cigarette. I am halfway up the block when I hear someone call out to me from an alley not far off. I go to investigate.
“It is true, indeed, what they say. You cannot trust the white man.”
Peer into the alley and see Chief Killing ******, standing idly with his hands by his sides.
“Come here, I have something for you.”
Not entirely sure why I am doing so, I drop my cancer stick and enter the alley and approach the Chief. He smiles strangely and removes a silver whistle from behind the feathers of his headdress.
“I wonder, do you know why I am called Chief Killing ******?”
“No, I do not.”
“Then let me show you.”
He places the whistle to his lips. A piercng shriek echoes through the alley.
“Now you will see.”
Nothing seems to be happening. I stare at the Chief in confusion for a few seconds, before I hear the clinking of high-heeled shoes. Dozens of pairs of high-heeled shoes, all of which sound like they are heading for the alley.
“I would like to introduce you to my *******.”
I see a series of strumpets, walking single file. They break line. Cover the wall to my left, to my right. They take formation in front of a dumpster at the back end of the alley, then finally close off the entryway. All wear pink miniskirts and black corsets. Black garters. Overly large, golden hoop earrings dangle comically from their ears as they take their places. The Chief stretches his arms above his head and yawns.
“Now they will show you what they do.”
More quickly than I can react, several of the prostitutes grab me from behind. One whispers into my ear that it will be fun to **** on my severed ****. She kisses me gently on the cheek. I am unable to refrain from getting an *******.
“Farewell, friend,” says Chief Killing ******.
A short, Arab looking ****** emerges from behind those standing at the alley's entrance. She makes her way in my direction, licking her lips and slowly drawing a forefinger across her neck. She holds a machete in her left hand.
I make no effort to struggle as I am forced to my knees. The ***** raises the machete above her head.
“This will not hurt a bit, my beloved.”
Close my eyes. Breathe in. Breathe out. I know it won't.
An ironic and contemporary take on the classic Orpheus myth by a modern Beatnik