Click here for the announcement.
To the people of Queens,
I love you. And I
want to wish all of
you a Happy Easter.
May God bless you
in this life and in
the next. And for now
I say goodbye and
- Son of Sam letter
Stuck outside of a shut-down barbershop, near the mouth of a wide, trash-packed alley, a phone booth was lit up, cold and white. Inside, a man tapped out his home phone number on the keypad.
"Hey baby, it's me...Nope. I'm sorry, I'm stuck, I can't get away."
On the street behind him, a cab almost hit a kid dressed all in black who was skateboarding at 9:00 in the evening. The kid skipped his board up on the curb between two parked cars and glared after the cab. The kid thought, but didn't say, things like "Fuck you" and "Fuck off".
"No, it's the Vasey people," the man in the booth said. "They got me, they want me to go out with them. To, well I guess to commemorate the deal."
This was a quiet part of the street. Another car passed, its headlights dancing over the chrome inside the barbershop. Not far away, someone was yelling loudly for someone else to come here and shut up.
"Well, no, I mean, I'm not that far away. I'm only like three, four blocks from the hotel, and I think we're probably just going to go to some place called Olson's for some drinks."
Across the street, a couple stories up, a woman opened a screen door and stepped out onto her balcony. She lit a cigarette and craned her neck so she could still watch TV while she smoked. From the street, the TV could be seen flickering on the opposite wall.
"Because they just told me. No, I'm walking. They'll already be there when I get there, so...No more than an hour, I don't think...No, I doubt it, I mean, it's just sort of like, you know, 'Good job, everyone. Let's all do a shot!'. It won't be..."
From the darkness of the wide-mouthed alley, a man in a slick yellow coat, who was holding a 40 oz. that was half-full of urine-colored beer, shuffled towards the phone booth. He stopped, his body lightly tilted to the left, and stared curiously at the man inside. He did this only for a second before turning his back.
"Okay. I'll call you from Olson's before I leave...I know, but you'll be up, right? No, I know, right. Okay, I love you, baby. Okay, see you soon. Bye, I love you."
He hung up and stepped out of the phone booth. As he did, the drunk in the yellow coat slipped and stumbled, his beer dropping from his hand. The bottle rang off the concrete but didn't break. As it rolled towards the outer wall of the babershop, the beer foamed and crept up the funnel-shaped neck.
"Wup, shit," the drunk muttered, landing on one knee and staying there, head down, as though waiting for a wave of sickness to pass.
The man from the phone booth stopped and watched him. As he watched, the drunk shook his head and muttered some more before sliding both legs out in front of him so that he sat down, hard. He sat there and watched his beer bottle clink against the barbershop's red brick. He huffed out a long sigh and coughed.
"You all right?" the man said, a little quietly, maybe hoping the drunk wouldn't hear him. The drunk shook his head, possibly in response, maybe in reference to something inside himself he privately disagreed with.
"You okay?" the man asked, now taking a few steps toward the drunk. "I saw you go down. You bang your knee?"
As the man got closer, the drunk tilted his head back, the man appearing to him upside down.
"Oh, hey buddy," the drunk said. "Naw, my knee's...I don't know. I lost my beer."
"I saw that. You need help up, or what?"
The drunk's hair was short and ruffled, but a quick combing would have fixed it. His coat was slightly beat to hell, but otherwise he didn't seem too weathered. The man wondered if the bender this man had evidently been on was just a one-off, something spurred by a temporary bout of depression, which, once it had been replaced by a hangover, might not reoccur. This idea somehow made the man less willing to help in whatever small way he could, but he was committed now.
"Yeah, man," the drunk said, nodding. Nodding had replaced head-shaking, perhaps indicating a positive change in his general outlook. He lowered his head, seeming suddenly tired, and lifted his hand so the man could take it. The man did, and braced his legs before pulling the drunk up.
"There you go," the man said.
The drunk plunged a knife, long and thick, into the man's guts. With one hand clutching the back of the man's head, and the other curled around the handle of the knife, he drove the man back into the shadows of the alley. The man started to make noises -- wet, catching noises -- like someone closing their throat to keep from vomiting. His eyes grew large and he began to sweat. Blood ran over the drunk's hand, and some splattered over his body. The blood ran off his coat like water.
"This isn't how you thought it would go for you, is it?" the drunk said. His voice was calm. He twisted the knife hard three times until the man sat down, back into a pile of stuffed garbage bags. The drunk sawed at him, opening a mouth in the man's belly. The man gurgled and cried out, so the drunk closed a hand around his throat, cutting off his voice.
He removed the dripping knife and set it aside. The man's eyes were glazing over, so he tentatively removed his hand from the man's throat. The man didn't scream, though his breathing was loud and quick. The drunk looked at the slit in the man's belly and slowly wormed his hand inside. The man was about to scream, he could tell, so he took a great handful of what he found in there and pulled down. The fistful held, and the man's mouth dropped open, as though what his killer held, so deep inside him, was somehow directly connected to his brain stem. Then his eyes rolled back, and his appearance now resembled the photograph of a ghost.
His killer let go and looked into the man's swimming eyes.
"This is it," he said. "No more for you."
The man's eyes rolled as the drunk put his hand over his mouth and pressed. Then, with his other hand, he retrieved the knife and slashed open the man's throat, moving back slightly as the blood washed down. The man died there, and his killer, long having shed his drunk act, took the man's wallet from his back pocket, and stuffed his corpse into a deep pile of trash. He then took off his coat, threw that on the body, wiped the knife free of prints, and added that to the mess. Finally, he covered everything over. Quickly washing his hands in what was left of the beer, and throwing the empty bottle deep into the back of the alley, he then opened the man's wallet, to see what there was to see.
The dead man's name had been Dennis Scott. The address on his license wasn't local, but there was a keycard for a room at the Global, which was just four or so blocks east of where his killer now stood. His killer, who name was Sam Winnick, turned in that direction and saw the glowing top of the Global and the red light flashing on the hotel's antenna tower, which looked like a dead star. Thumbing through the wallet again, he found photos, family photos, old parents, a young wife, maybe a brother. There was a little money. Winnick looked at the photo of the woman he presumed was Dennis Scott's wife, and he thought of the conversation Scott was having in the phone booth.
He turned and walked east.
END PART ONE