When they let me out I only wanted to see how far I could get. Rehabilitation efforts had been wasted on me through tests, drugs and therapy. I could not tell if they saw through my disguise but I felt no concern either. For me it was all a game. Games were supposed to be fun...even if they determined who would live or who would die.
I had no one to pick me up from the institution. I insisted on walking. I only had one destination in mind. It was so early in the morning. So I had time. I would conduct my work at night on Violet Lane.
From a bench near the park I watched the black birds fly overhead. Large flocks of them flapped about as if they were trying to hide me from the sun. I have always been a fan of shade but this was rather peculiar. However I stayed to enjoy the phenomenon for a few hours. I saw by my time piece in my vest that the time had reached noon which meant lunch. So up I left the bench and my winged friends.
I ate in a new fast food joint and I felt pretty sad about it. When I was institutionalized thirty-one years ago, a fine little cafe sat on this spot. I asked an employee when the cafe had closed but the poor employee was too young. I saw in an instant his confusion and waved a hand at my own question. I ate half of the grease-soaked sandwich, vomited in the restroom toilet and left.
I walked through town to see what else had changed in my absence. All the signs, buildings and parking lots along of course with the newer model cars had changed. However the feel of the people's eyes who bothered to notice me felt no different than before. Just as hostile and just as fearful as before. I smiled to the few who looked at me. I got one smile back from a black-haired lady with striking blue eyes at a red light crossing. She wore a simple green shirt, jean shorts and sandals despite the temperature hovering around fifty. I shoved my hands into my coat pockets and smiled back to her.
“How are you?”
“I'm okay. You?”
“I love this weather.”
“Oh. Me, too. People tell me I should wear more clothes but I guess I'm just hot-natured. It's weird. I know.”
“Not to me. I'm Welton.”
“Never heard of that name before. I'm Georgina.”
“Nice to meet you.”
“You new in town?”
“Been here my whole life.”
“Me too. I figured I would have heard about you before.”
“Why is that?”
She gave me a sarcastic grin.
“Um. The way you're dressed? What are you? A time traveler?”
I have always admired the fashion from a much earlier time in this country. I wore a bowler hat, chocolate brown suit with pin stripes and white and tan camp shoes from the Civil War era and of course my time piece. Those who wore watches any more kept them on the wrist.
“Not exactly although I have always felt a bit out of place.”
“Where have you been hiding Welton?”
“The mental hospital.”
The girl's face lost all color. She darted into traffic. I thought she would be killed. It wouldn't be the first body I had seen smeared across pavement. She managed to get by the passing vehicles. She gave me one last glance before she turned the corner of a building and disappeared. I made sure I smiled at her when she did. The light changed and I crossed the street.
I entered a shop in the downtown area which had replaced a candy store I often visited as a boy. I found a collection of new age clothes and accessories which all looked second hand to me. There was no refinement to any of it including the cane I purchased. It was the only one they had. A pink stick that came up to my waist with a padded handle and a little strap hanging from it although I cannot imagine what purpose the strap could possibly serve. I would have torn it off but the only thing worse than low quality items are those which have been defaced. I vanished from the store.
I spent the remainder of daylight simply enjoying the sun. I found it was much easier to remember directions to Violet Lane than I had thought it would be. For the past thirty-one years I had only known my own white cell and the white walls and floors of the hallways of the institution. There was such white and bleakness to the whole place. If you weren't mad before you went in you most certainly would be when you left as I felt quite positive at this point that my own madness had only been multiplied by my time inside. As dusk fell I smiled at the silly idea that I could actually be free from the past. So it was time to see how far I could get indeed.
The old man lived a quiet life now but I knew a time when he did not. As I approached his house at 10 Violet Lane I smiled at my own actions minutes before. I had purchased a can of spray paint at the hardware store- a little mom and pop operation which had not yet been run out by its corporate competitors. The original owner still worked there. He checked me out and I think for a split-second he recognized me but I quickly turned and left. I painted an “N” in between the “e” and the “t” on the Violet Lane sign. I thought I might give a hint as to what was to come. People might not notice now but they would after tonight giving some nostalgia to the upcoming event.
I spied on the old timer who watered his potted palms on his porch. He could no longer stand straight up. His frame had shrunk and his face no longer wore a beard unlike in his younger days. I approached the front porch with my pink cane in hand. He nearly had the door shut behind him when I spoke.
“Pardon me, sir.”
I had to say it twice more before he heard me. At that point he turned to me.
“Hi. I was wondering if you have a few minutes.”
“Ugh. Going to bed soon.”
“Eh. Got the kids coming tomorrow. I like to get plenty of sleep. They can wear a body out.”
“I only have one quick question for you.”
He stood with the screen door between us.
“Well I wonder if I might borrow a cup of water. I have been walking all day and I have a terrible thirst.”
He placed his ear to the door to listen. I repeated my question but did so as quietly as possible so that he would have to open the door. Again I repeated myself until the old screen door's creak brought music to my ears. He stuck his head through.
The pink cane proved to be highly effective. The old fool fell to the porch's creaky floor. A little stream of blood flowed out. I opened the door, shoved him inside and set to work.
At 17 Violet Lane, I stalked my second victim. Her fat pink curlers and purple robe were aged. In fact the last time I saw her thirty-one years ago she was wearing the same things. She had aged as much as those items if not more so.
She turned to me. Her eyes bulged out of her skull to the point of taking out of her face. Minutes earlier I had sneaked in with the use of a key she still kept beneath the door mat after all these years. She started to scream but I made the revolver visible. The old Colt piece came from the desk drawer of the man at 10 Violet Lane. It contained two bullets which was more than enough.
“Before you scream take a look at this.”
Her lips quivered.
“What do you want?”
“To get what I want.”
“You ever think about getting a new robe? That thing looks a little past it.”
She covered herself with her hands.
“And those liver spots. My lord. You must have been a bad girl in your day to earn all those.”
She started backing away from me. I raised the weapon higher and aimed it straight at her face.
“Don't kill me. Please!”
I smiled to her.
“Could you say that one more time?”
“Not that. The last word you said.”
Her eyes were bulged out to their very limits. Every line in her face was visible in the dim light of her kitchen. The word sounded like a mouse squeak when she released it from her lips.
The first shot caught her in the chest. She tried to scream but I suppose I must have hit a lung. I stood over her and winked. Her face contorted at that.
Then I shot her in the head.
25 Violet Lane proved more difficult. While I had retrieved a familiar old butcher knife from 17 Violet Lane and gained access into the house via an unlocked window, the resident saw me coming.
I was mid-way to the door of the second bedroom when the man tossed the door open and charged me. This made sense as I recalled he was always good at holding people down. I swung the knife.
The blade managed to catch him on the left arm, but then he knocked it from my grasp. He tackled me to the floor in a choke hold. His hands had not lost a bit of strength. Yet I managed to maneuver my thumbs onto his eyes and pressed with all my might. I could feel my wind pipe closing and failing under his monster grip. I saw black.
The huge bulk of a man fell away from me grabbing his eyes. I retrieved hold of the knife and swung.
I caught him right in the chest. Yet he shoved me back to the floor. I lied there long enough to see him exit the world. Just then I could see blue light flashes reflecting in the windows. And then the closet door creaked open. I had to look twice to be certain of what I saw.
She stood there looking down at the man I had just ended. Her face was somewhere between shock, sadness and anger. She finally turned to me.
“Thank you, Welton.”
“I knew who you were at the red light. I was afraid at first. Not of you but of what you might do. My grandfather always told me about you and how you might get out one day. He described you as a monster.”
She stepped out of the closet and checked the dead man's pulse.
“However after living with this man since my mom died I have learned what he is. I usually wear more. He would not allow me to. He is the real monster. And so were his neighbors. I found old pictures they kept. You were that boy. You did the right thing.”
Well I got all the way although I did not think I would. Thirty-one years ago I killed a man out of the madness that had been instilled in me from the torture so long ago by my three victims on Violet Lane. I have had only one visitor since my return. I did not see them but they left me a gift I keep beside me pink cane- a single violet in red water.
Anthony David Mitchell lives in Jackson, TN but more importantly lives to write crime fiction as it is his passion. If he's got one thing on his mind late at night, it's crime. Lock those doors and windows