As he removes his red stained gloves he is careful not to leave a mess behind. He discards his clothes and burns them in the back of his New Hampshire yard. Once he's satisfied, he reenters his house and climbs up to his cellar. There they sit in jars, months of hard work, and now they are perfectly preserved.0
Chad Miller (United States)
I knew that I was capable of such acts, but I always thought that it would happen in the basement. It was simply a matter of location. It wasn’t an absolute, but it was fairly uncommon for a house in New Hampshire to have a basement. I lived in the town of Temple, which was one of the tiniest towns in one of the tiniest States. It didn’t matter though. A basement would be ideal, but it wasn’t essential. I had a talent, a true gift for such things, and nothing would stop me from my craft.
First things, first, I had to clean up. I had to take those rubber gloves off, but I resisted until I made it outside. I walked carefully through the kitchen. I was sure not to touch anything, not to let anything drip onto the floor. My rubber gloves were stained red, and were still wet to the touch. I looked at my knife that lay on the counter. My insides quivered. It wasn’t that it was still filthy. It was caked in red, but that wasn’t the issue. The knife just sat there on the quartz counter top, which could easily scratch or dull the blade. I know what you’re thinking. I live in New Hampshire, the Granite State, why weren’t my counter tops made out of granite? I refused to be a stereotype! But let me digress, back to the blade. An instrument like a knife was powerful and dangerous, but was also fragile, and had to be cared for and stored properly. It should’ve been put back in the butcher block, but instead I left the blade discarded on the counter top, and therefore it would surely lose some of its ferocity. I had an itch to stop in my tracks and take care of the knife situation, but like I said, first things first.
I made it to the back sliding glass door, which led to the back porch. I thoughtfully planned ahead and left the door slightly ajar, as I couldn’t use my filthy gloved hands to open the door. I nudged the door open with my foot and made my way outside.
It was April, but it was still cool, damn near cold. The porch was nice, but poorly constructed with cheap plastic rails. The top of the posts blew off in heavy winds, and I often found them scattered across the lawn. I took the wooden stairs down to the backyard, which still had patches of snow on the ground. The backyard was large, but not by New Hampshire’s standards, but I still had my privacy. The land was pretty clear. The house sat on a mound of grass, which was encircled by woods on all sides. It was beautiful there, and if you were lucky enough to sit at the right spot, and have a clear view over the trees, Mount Monadnock would peek its way through the leaves.
My fire pit was in the middle of the yard and safely at a distance from the woods. I stripped and threw all of my clothes, gloves and all, into the pit. I shivered as I walked to the garage and quickly grabbed a can of kerosene and a pack of matches. As I poured the kerosene onto my clothes and threw the lit match in, I did so without any fear or trepidation. My nearest neighbor was over a mile away. Mr. Johnston was old and bastardly and always kept to himself. He would think nothing about seeing smoke rise from my fire pit. The main road was five miles away, but even if someone made their way to the back dirt road, there was still no fear. Anybody would think that I was just burning the brush from my woods. The smoke that arose from my clothes was dark and almost black and carried a different hue than if I were burning leaves or branches, but nobody would be paying close attention. Burning the clothes in the pit was the way to go; I was certain of it. Trash collection occurred every two weeks, and was just picked up just a couple days back. I didn’t want the clothes sitting in the garbage until they would be picked up. They would start to reek by then. And besides, I didn’t need any garbage men stumbling upon those dirty clothes. I didn’t need anybody getting curious. I didn’t want anyone asking questions. I could have put the clothes in garbage bags, and driven them down to the county dump, but why go to that effort when I could just burn the evidence away. The deed was done. I turned on the hose and cleaned my hands, but I was starting to get really cold and decided to head back inside and take care of my knife.
First I washed the knife. I scrubbed hard, but the red grit was hard to clean. Alas, with persistence I was triumphant. Next, I needed to sharpen the blade. It was sitting on the countertop, which could’ve dulled the blade, but it probably needed a good sharpening anyway because I used it very often. It wasn’t just bone and gristle that could dull the blade; using it on anything would do the trick. I looked at the block and saw the honing steel and laughed a little. So many people think that the steel was the instrument to use for sharpening the blade. It wasn’t ignorance that these people had or even stupidity. It was a lack of respect for the knife. The purpose of the steel was just to shape the blade, realign it so to speak. In order to sharpen it, you had to shave off metal. Some use stone, but I had an electric sharpener, which was easier and more precise. After my knife was proper again, I placed it safely back in the block.
It was time. It was finally the time to go up into my attic and check out my handiwork. I made my way upstairs bringing a small flashlight with me. In the center of the hallway I located the cord, which hung from the ceiling and I pulled on it, thus lowering the ladder. I slowly climbed up. Even though I knew what to expect, I still had a nervous and giddy feeling. Once I made it upstairs, I flicked on the flashlight and was in awe of my work. How clean it was in that attic. I used what was called aseptic technique. It was spotless. It was brilliant. I didn’t think that anyone could tell what went on in this attic just a few hours prior. There were built in shelves lining the right wall. That’s where I stored everything. The shelves were filled with mason jars. The red goo that sat in the jars were almost bubbling. Some people preferred caning, but I liked the jars. It was important for me to see my work, to see what rested inside those jars. It gave me a sense of personal satisfaction. All the hard work that it took. All the patience. All the sacrifice.
And so, there the preserves rested. It was mostly strawberry and raspberry jam. I know that most people used their preserves in the winter, but I liked using them year-round. Oh, all of those mason jars filled with yummy jam. It looked so quaint, so pretty. Oh……what were you thinking? Did you think that I lured some unlucky soul up into my attic and brutally murdered them and disposed of their body up there? No, I’m not a lunatic. I’m not crazy.
It’s in the woods. It’s in the woods where I bury the fucking corpses.
Competition: June 2015 Pen Factor, Round 1
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