Mature themes. Discretion advised.
You saw me, reader.
I didn’t realize you’d come back in the bar, having forgotten your wallet in the back room.
There’s no evidence. Not a single drop of blood or brush of a fingerprint. Not an ounce of suspicion.
No evidence. Except you.
You can go to the police right now; I won’t blame you. I won’t do anything. I realize you’d be well within your rights to scoff and roll your eyes at that promise, but I swear on my dead daughter’s grave.
Ah, that stopped you, didn’t it? Surely, you connected the dots. You see it now; I can almost hear those gears in your brain clanking away.
You always wondered why a middle-aged, balding man came to work in Alfred’s Bar after losing his cushy bank job.
He’s probably tired of office life, you told yourself. Or it’s the economy and nothing else was available.... Either way, he’s just another guy with a mid-life crisis.
As the months passed, you found yourself relaxing around me. Just a clumsy, lovable man, fresh out of a divorce and looking to find a little joy in the simple life, cleaning tables, sweeping the floor. Laughing with Alfred about that one customer that gets drunk off appletinis every Friday night.
Until last night, when you saw me holding the pillow over Alfred’s still body.
I’m sorry you had to see it; I really am. A young person such as yourself should never see such violence.
And that’s precisely why I did what I did, reader. You must understand this.
I’ve seen what he does to you. Oh, yes, my eyes might dull more and more every day, but I see the way he stares at your chest. I see his hand grazing your arms, your thighs, when you pass him. I see the way you jump and shrink away.
Our eyes met the last time it happened. I in no way mean to blame you, but that’s what did it. Those eyes. That fear.
I’d seen that fear before.
You’re not surprised, I’m assuming, when I say that you were not the only girl Alfred tormented.
Emma would have turned twenty-one yesterday. Emma. Your heart stutters at that name, yes? The hostess you replaced?
Emma didn’t see twenty-one. She didn’t even see eighteen.
You can feel it, reader. The ice in your veins. The shivers creeping down your neck. You know what Alfred’s doing to you is horrible. Awful, disgusting, perverted.
Truth is, he did so much worse to Emma, reader.
I should have known right from the beginning, when she would come home with pale skin and wide eyes. She jumped at small noises. She started failing her classes. She came down from her bedroom in the mornings with dark half-circles under her eyes. She became thin as a twig in a matter of weeks.
Her mother and I sat her down plenty and asked what was wrong. She’d shake her head and scurry back upstairs.
I blamed myself, reader. I really did. I still do. But when I read the note, sitting atop her desk, as my wife screamed and sobbed and held Emma’s body in her arms, something snapped.
He said he’d kill you if I told you. I’m sorry, Mom and Dad.
I tried to be rational; I went to the police first. And you know what they did? They shrugged. They shook their heads and rolled their eyes, because Alfred had a wife and two boys and why would a loving, hardworking father like that have any interest in a teenager?
She’s just a girl suffering from a broken heart, they said. A lovesick, mentally insane girl who slit her wrists when her boss wouldn’t return her advances.
I’d forgotten that Alfred gave officers free drinks every Saturday night.
You’re feeling sick to your stomach now, aren’t you, reader? I did, too. I felt sick for four years.
The first year, I drank.
The second year was the divorce.
But the last two years, I planned.
You remember that, don’t you? Watching me quickly become best friends with Alfred. It takes two things to win over a guy like that: compliments and humility. Because a man in power doesn’t just want to hear it; he wants to feel it. To see it. And he saw it, in owning a divorced, overweight man who lost a fancy job and a fancier house.
It took two years for me to become his number one guy, to get access to his cameras and cash register. Oh, yes. No better person to have in charge of the money than a former bank worker.
And then I started the rumors. You heard them. How Alfred’s wife had met another man….
The rumors spread as fast as sickness in a town like this. Whispers in every corner. The people refused to believe a nice man like Alfred would rape my Emma, but they believed in a heartbeat that his wife cheated.
The stage was set. I asked him to hang around for drinks after everyone else left for the night. A cheers to two years of working, two years of friendship.
It went perfectly. Scribbled a note in his handwriting (I’d practiced for months) to lay atop the cash register. Got him nice and tired with a little magic powder in his drink and used the pillow to finish off the job.
And that was that. Job done. The town would believe he’d run off to another city, desperate to escape his whore of a wife, taking all the money he had. The employees would nod their heads as the rumors solidified into truth. The police would scribble away in the notepads and shrug, shrug, shrug as they always did.
I didn’t know he’d given you a key; I should’ve guessed he’d have a number one girl, too. But you ran before I could explain.
He’s gone, reader. I won’t tell you where I put him. He could be buried deep within the forest at the outskirts of town, or lying at the bottom of a lake.
You can go to the police.
But if you've read this far...something tells me you won’t.