“It Was a Very Good Year” by Frank Sinatra blared over the speakers at Detective Carter’s retirement party. After twenty years of serving his community, he was pushed out of the force due to an overall lack of results in his later years, so you could safely assume that this song was ironic considering the circumstances.
He glanced down at the newspaper in front of him and read a disturbing headline, “SERIAL KILLER STILL AT LARGE, CLAIMS SEVENTH VICTIM IN TWENTY DAYS.” His wrinkled face screamed a hellacious existence; he’d been beaten and battered by the game of life. His bristly moustache had remnants of alcohol resting within. Detective Carter shook his head and ordered another shot of rum. The bartender glided over to his seat and poured it for him, and continued to do so after the shot pourer stopped at one.
The detective spoke, “I’m not paying extra.”
“With your pension? Ha. You should be buying the whole bar a round.”
“Funny.” He tipped his head back and swallowed the rum without hesitation. “Fill me back up, I’m going outside to have a smoke.” Detective Carter turned in his chair and reached for his jacket to brace himself for the cold Yonkers autumn.
As he walked towards the exit, he felt a dark presence enter him to his very core. He felt it deep within himself, yet proceeded to push the door open. Once outside, he reached inside of his coat jacket for a fresh pack of Newport 100’s. He did his ritualistic exercise of packing the cigarettes, three times from each direction. He tore off the cellophane that enclosed the pack and tossed it to the ground with no regard.
“Littering is not good, detective.” The man behind the voice stepped out from the shadows and stood two feet from Carter.
“Do you know who I am?”
“Considering you’ve spent the last year and a half trying to catch me, I’d say you should, yeah.”
The detective’s mouth sat agape as the man strided over to him to look him in the eye.
“How does it feel to know that I’m not close to done? I’ve perfected my craft, more than you could say for yourself. You’ve exhausted every method to catch me, yet it can’t be done? Why is that, Jon? Want me to fill you in?”
“Be my guest. You’re somebody else’s problem now.”
“Ha. That’s funny. You’re funny, Jon. You know something, detective? And I use that term as loosely as possible because you’re nothing short of a living, breathing punch line. You’re an old washed up drunk who couldn’t catch a seven year old playing freeze tag.”
Jon let out a deep sigh, clearly becoming agitated at the words this man was lashing at him.
“What’s the matter, getting under your skin? Truth hurts doesn’t it? Now let me cut to the chase here. Ha, what a turn of phrase, huh? Maybe if you’d done exactly that I’d be rotting on death row right now, but no. You didn’t have what it takes and never did. You’re a disgrace to your profession and the force both. You should be ashamed of yourself, Jon.”
“Say what you need to say and get the fuck out of my face.”
The man let out a sincere belly laugh and leaned back against the wall. He turned his head towards him and spoke freely.
“You’ve spent the last, what, fifteen or so months trying to get me, Jon? What’s one thing you didn’t do?”
“Enough with the riddles, either say what you need to say or leave me be.”
The mysterious man took two steps back and walked in a short circle. He stopped and gathered his thoughts before letting them out into air between them.
“What you did wrong, what they all did wrong, is that you and everyone else who is on my trail neglects the notion of thinking LIKE me. Think like a ruthless, homicidal maniac. I know, it’s not easy for you heathens to do such a thing. I want to be caught. I want my name to live in infamy.” He took a turn and began to walk away. With his back turned towards the detective he said, “My name is James Altiwood and I will turn over the ends of this Earth to prove my point… and you will witness it. Have a good night, Jon.”
Jon disappeared into the shadows of the night and Detective Carter stormed his way back into the bar. He was furious. That was until he reached his seat, rum on the bar in front of him. He allowed the shot to slither down his throat. He sat back and went through what James had said to him in his head. As the words spun around like a rampant tornado, he stood up at once and placed a twenty dollar bill on the bar. “Here’s your tip, have a good one.”
About an hour had passed before Detective Carter pulled into the Home Depot parking lot. He stepped out of the green Ford Taurus and made his way to the automatic doors. The sliding doors opened and he walked through them with dark intentions in mind.
He thought to himself, “first things first, garden department. James wants me to think like him, then that is exactly what I will do.”
He did just that, once stumbling upon the garden department he came across a teenage boy wearing an orange Home Depot smock. As Jon called for his attention, the boy turned in his direction. His hair was a mess and he wore a plaid shirt beneath the smock. The worker’s name tag read BILLY. He asked if Jon needed any assistance. Jon shook his head yes and asked where he could find a hatchet and a shovel.
As Billy directed him to the hatchet first and shovel next, he thought to himself that he may have just waited on an aspiring serial killer. He was right.