The icy fingers of fear crawled up my spine before constricting around my lungs. In true gossip form, the ladies gave me the latest scoop.
“From what I hear, Mandy was supposed to go to dinner with his grandmother Sunday night. When he didn’t show up, his mom called him. She didn’t get an answer so she thought maybe he’d forgotten but she kept leaving messages and he didn’t call back. She called his cell phone and his number here and she still didn’t get an answer. Apparently, she got so worried she went to his house last night. His car was there and his TV was left on but he was nowhere to be found. She called the cops and they started an investigation.”
My stomach froze into a block of dread…cops interviewing the staff was bad news. I sat in my cubicle waiting for them to come get me but they never did. Cory and Sherry, as I learned on the ride home, spent a long time talking with the officers. While they were being questioned, a detective called them and said Mandy appeared to have left willingly. A bag and much of his clothing was gone so the interviews ended.
Knowing I had dodged a bullet impressed upon me the need to end my foolishness and just get rid of Mandy. Playtime was officially over! Besides, I was ready to get back to a normal life again. The trick was figuring out how to kill Mandy and get rid of his body.
“Hello?!? Anybody home?”
Startled, I looked up and we were sitting in Cory’s driveway. The car was off and both Cory and Sherry were standing outside looking at me.
“Wow, you were a million miles away, there.”
I could feel a blush burning my cheeks but I knew they didn’t mind. Cory playfully punched my shoulder and Sherry placed a kiss on my scarlet cheek.
“He’s so adorable when he blushes.”
Cory groaned and went inside. Sherry and I spent some time together before she went home for dinner. I knew I needed to get my butt in gear, quit goofing around, and just kill Mandy already.
I stormed into the house, locked my doors, and went directly to the basement. Usually when I flung open the door, Mandy would pretend he was sleeping but the involuntary twitch his body made, proved he was aware that I’d entered. This time there was no reaction. I tapped him on the shoulder and he did not move. In no mood to play games, I took my knife and stabbed his arm. Still, there was no movement. It was then that I realized he wasn’t breathing. His chest didn’t move up and down in respiration. When I pulled his head back, Mandy’s eyes were open and didn’t even flinch when I touched his eyeball. I felt for a pulse but he was dead. Relief washed over me. In truth, I didn’t know if I could really look him in the eyes and kill him, face to face.
What I learned later was that Mandy had been a diabetic and I hadn’t given him any insulin. Between the stress, multiple infections, shock to his system, dehydration, lack of food and then a sudden influx of sugar, Ketoacidosis shut down his system for good. I just needed to dispose of the body and I would be home free.
I stuffed Mandy in the trunk of my car and started to pull out of the garage when Sherry came running across the lawn. I rolled down the window and, of course, she asked where I was going. Dumbfounded, I didn’t have an answer so I said I was going to hit a drive-thru for dinner. Big mistake! She forced me to come with her to her house and eat dinner there. By the time I ate, chatted with the family, and had dessert, it was late. I was too tired to do much of anything so I chucked Mandy back into the root cellar and decided to wait until the next night.
At work, I sucked down coffee all afternoon so I’d be able to stay up long after Sherry had gone to bed. I plotted out the logistics and knew I had a solid plan for getting rid of the body. It was just a matter of waiting out the day. Just like any other day, I rode home with Cory and Sherry. Cory went home while Sherry and I walked hand-in-hand to my house. I can remember it like it was yesterday…. She was in mid-story about something Ruby-the-cat had done as we walked in through the front door. One second I was facing her, the next I was jacked up against the wall. Sherry’s screams echoed in my ear as a gruff voice snarled at me.
“You’re under arrest for the murder of Darren Mann. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say or do can be used against you in a court of law.”
Once the cuffs were snapped around my wrists, the cop spun me around. My mother was sitting in a chair sobbing as officers fluttered about bringing her a glass of water and tissues.
“I-I-I c-came t-t-to visit m-m-my son and,” for effect, Mom paused to make sure all eyes were on her as she dabbed at the tears. “I decided to do some laundry and I smelled something awful down there. I’d assumed an animal had gotten trapped in the root cellar and died. When I opened the door….Oh, God! It wasn’t an animal. It was a man and he’d been mutilated.”
“No, Mom, you’re wrong. He was an animal.”
Of all the dumb luck….My mom decided to visit. I hadn't heard from her in months but she just happened to pop in, out of the blue. No doubt she hoped to bum some money or try to steal more of Grandma’s silver. If she’d just waited one more day or if she’d bothered to call me to say she was coming none of this would have happened. It wasn’t until I heard Sherry whimper that I realized they’d cuffed her too. I cleared her immediately and, when the shock passed, they could tell she was truly innocent.
In the days and months that followed, I’ve thought long and hard about what I’d done. I know I can never make any of you understand why I did what I did but I did it because I love my family. I did it to protect them because they’d been bullied their whole lives. I did it because Cory was the closest I’d ever come to having a brother and Sherry was, and is, the love of my life.
I was just writing the words, “The End” when I heard the cell door clang open. The guards and the warden were standing there, waiting for me
“You ready to go?”
“Would it matter if I said no?”
The guards half-heartedly chucked but I guess they’d heard that line before. The shackles were clamped to my hands and feet. With one guard on each side of me, they linked their arm around mine as if we were “off to see the wizard”. I supposed that was so they could drag me in if I refused to walk. I didn’t though….not even when “The Chair” was in my line of sight. I listened as they read the decree while the guards at my side strapped me in and put the electrodes on me. Most of it sounded like Charlie Brown’s teacher, “Wah wah wah wha”, until the warden said:
“Electricity shall be passed through your body until you are dead. Do you have any last words?”
I looked out at the people there to watch me fry. Cory and Sherry were permitted to come but Cory was not there. Sherry sat alone, sobbing. Mandy’s family was there. I remembered them from the trial. Mom didn’t bother. I’m sure she was busy hocking all of Grandma’s stuff.
“Do you have any last words?”
“Yes. The papers got it wrong. They usually do. This wasn’t a hate crime…at least not in the traditional sense of the word. I didn’t care that he was a cross-dresser or that his sexual preference was “anything goes”. Those things don’t matter to me. What people do in the privacy of their own bedroom is their business, not mine. No, my motive had nothing to do with his slinky dresses and wigs; it was all about the person under the mask. Sometimes, no matter how much makeup a person spackles onto their face, they can’t hide the ugliness inside…”
***Mandy made have concluded but there is something new brewing for July. Be sure to return on Monday, June 30th to get a sneak peek!***