Content warning: This is meant to be satire, so it could all be perceived as offensive and touches on many triggering topics.
“Nothing makes for an exciting election season like a well-timed murder,” an old man wearing a mustard-colored cardigan says to the chubby white haired gentlemen across the booth from him. He raises his thick caterpillar eyebrows to emphasize the statement.
I couldn’t help but listen in when hearing a line like that, and luckily they both spoke loudly enough to eavesdrop with ease.
“What’re you going on about?” The chubby man says before cramming half a waffle into his mouth. He has to chew with his mouth open, since there’s too much in there to shut his lips around. Syrup drizzles down his freckled chin, carrying little flecks of golden waffle downstream to his white button-up shirt.
“Says here in the papers, a homeless person murdered a pretty little girly, and turns out that girl’s our bleeding heart liberal candidate’s niece. It’s gotta be staged, right? Taylor Jenkin’s whole thing is about feeding everyone. Then you got a homeless man killin’ his flesh and blood. He’s bound to change his tune and look like a hypocrite.” Mr. Mustard Cardigan shoves the newspaper at his pal.
I didn’t know she was related to Jenkins.
Chubby shakes his head. “Nah, I bet it’s the liberals. Hopin’ we’ll think the reds are up to this kind of heartless nonsense and feel sympathetic for the poor guy. Pretty girl too.”
“He’d never let them kill a family member.”
“We don’t know she’s really his niece and we sure don’t know she’s dead. I didn’t see a body. Could all be a thing.”
The waitress walks over to me and says, “Here’s your coffee, Miss. Can I get you anything else?”
“No, no. I’m all good for now. Thanks.”
She smiles and walks away. My focus travels back to the men. Apparently other people in the diner are listening too. A middle aged man in a flannel shirt jumps in with, “I bet that homeless man wanted money. Saw an obviously rich, white girl, knew she’d have something and went for her purse. Should’ve been easy, but feminists being tough as nails and always prepared these days, she fights back with all the stuff she’s learned from a self-defense class. He gets spooked and shoots. Poor guy probably never meant to murder. Only wanted a hot meal and shower is all.”
“Are you kidding me?” A woman in a floral dress says. “Siding with the killer over a poor innocent girl? She didn’t ask for this. And this city does a damn fine job of taking care of the homeless. No one goes hungry. You ask me, the man was probably hopped up on all sorts of drugs and messed up in the head.”
Interesting that they all assume the killer’s a man. That’s nice.
“What’s the race of the homeless person?” A morbidly obese pale white man with glasses asks.
“Does it matter?” A voluptuous black woman snarls while shooting mental daggers through her eyes at him.
“Well, I bet he’s black,” the man shrugs.
“Probably Hispanic,” suggests another.
The woman is livid. I can’t blame her. It’s all incredibly racist. It’s exciting to hear, though. Will an actual fight break out in front of me? That’d be an amazing way to start the day. I don’t often hear about diner brawls, but I wish I did. I sit back against the bright blue booth cushion and sip my warm, black coffee. This is the kind of thing you need a bowl of popcorn for.
“This whole thing is why we need to invest more in mental health!” A man in a tweed jacket pounds on the sunny yellow diner table in front of him like he’s starting a revolution. I notice he’s eating a bowl of oatmeal. Who comes to a diner for oatmeal? That’s literally the easiest thing you can make at home.
No one pays him much attention. No one knows what to say about mental health really. Is it the problem? Maybe. Does anyone know enough about it to fix it? Not really. It’s a conversation stopper.
“Here’s my theory,” a young twenty-something year old man says. “I bet it’s revenge. Bitch’s obviously got money and a powerful family. I bet she made a false accusation about him. Probably rape. Cost him everything and he had to get her back for it. What else can he do?”
People shift further from this man. That’s a little too specific and emotionally charged of an answer. Clearly, he’s got some shit going on.
“All I know is that it’s a tragedy that such a young life was lost. She was only eighteen,” the woman in the floral dress says. She’s probably a mom. Probably planning to go home and hold her babies extra tight.
A few people nod their heads and I think my chances of witnessing a large-scale diner war are over. It could’ve been a food fight with flinging knives, faces squished into waffles or scalded with the way too hot coffee. It could’ve been epic.
Then the voluptuous black woman saves the day with, “people only care because she’s a pretty white girl.”
Then the diner erupts. Heads explode with rapid word vomit. I can’t keep track. Something about pretty privilege, white power, government corruption, mental illness, gender, and the fact that all humans are programmed to be violent and the issue is we are fighting against true nature. A cinnamon roll is tossed and smashes onto a just-this-morning-dry-cleaned shirt. My heart is soaring as the chaos bubbles around me. Tears fill my eyes from the beauty of it. Then the manager comes running out with a broom in hand, why a broom I’m not sure, saying “I’m calling the police! The police! Not in my diner!”
This starts up an argument about police and the whole issue of murder seems thoroughly lost now. Everyone is properly enraged. I smile, and sip my coffee. I sure hope the police think like these people. Then I might stay free.
The thing is, last night I got super bored. I had watched one too many shows on serial killers comparing what worked and what didn’t to craft my perfect get away with murder plan. I didn’t necessarily plan to murder, but it’s something I always wondered about. I liked torturing cats for a while. Messed around with some squirrels and the occasional missing dog too. After a while it all lost its thrill, and I wondered if a human was the step up I had been searching for. I started with psychological torture, naturally. The meanest of the mean girls. I tore apart social lives with ease. Destroyed boys, sent girls to what I hope turns into decades of therapy. It was fun for a while.
I had called up Carlos last night and asked him to play my favorite game. We’d both pretend to be homeless and see who could make the most money begging. I’m a fierce competitor, and one would think Carlos would know by now that I don’t play fair. Being a somewhat attractive, wholesome looking girl, it’s pretty easy for me to offer sleazy looking guys blow jobs and rake in way more money than Carlos could ever make. Then I claim it’s that people are simply more sympathetic to a woman in need. I always win. I don’t think Carlos cares much since he definitely doesn’t need money and we have a pretty solid friends with benefits relationship. He’d do anything for me. I keep that in mind any time I do something and think I could use a fall guy. Keep a few of his hairs and fibers handy to lay out at any given scene, in case. Back up plans are smart. I’ll visit him in jail plenty if it comes to that and he’ll forgive. He always does.
In any case, we’re on opposite sides of the city because being too close together might give people weird ideas. I’m asking for money, but things are slow. The street’s pretty empty. I’m fucking bored. There’s no one fun to mess with. I’ve played this game too much. Then I see this girl. Pretty blonde. She’s all alone. She’s not doing any of the protective things girls normally do. Too naïve maybe. Even I walk around with keys between my fingers and pepper spray in my purse. She doesn’t have a purse. She’s only wearing a very short, tight black dress. There’s confusion on her face. I walked up to her and said, “hey, are you lost?”
Relief washed over her face to see me. Another girl. Safe. Harmless. Someone she can trust.
“Yes! Can you help me? The GPS brought me here, but this doesn’t look at all like where I want to be?”
“Of course!” I glanced at her phone and I did know the spot. It’s one of the areas that got programmed weirdly and everyone makes this mistake. Maybe the bar does it on purpose to be mysterious and hip. “I’ve been there. They have great bands. Really cool underground scene.”
“Yeah, there’s this guy,” she blushes. “He’s in one of the bands. I’ve never been. I normally wouldn’t go to that kind of place. No offense, but–”
“Oh, I get it,” I laughed. “It’s actually where I met my man, Carlos. He plays drums.”
Her eyes widened with playful dramatic flair. Drummers are always the hottest. Carlos has never touched a drum set.
I couldn’t stop thinking how easy a target she was. No one was around. Probably no one knew where she was. This sounded like a secret type of rendezvous, after all. Now that I know her age, she wasn’t old enough for that club. I had this suspicion then. She clearly trusted me. Everyone does. I’ve got one of those faces. A blessing and a curse. On impulse, I led her in the wrong direction. I was careful. Aware that first times can be trial and error.
Nothing could beat that high. The way I felt watching shimmering red liquid pool around her pretty face was pure bliss. Stirring the pot in this diner brawl, however, might be decent too. All I need is a good conspiracy theory seed to plant in the middle.
A man with an eye patch beats me to the punch, and I must admit that’s the best way it all could’ve turned out. Nothing can keep me safer than people doubting this crime ever even happened. I like connecting it all back to the election again in the end. I didn’t realize I had that working for me. Like Mr. Mustard Cardigan said, a well-timed murder is exciting for an election, and I love watching this flower bloom into something more stunning than I ever imagined. If I do get caught, maybe being tied to the election will make me one of those cool killers that people line up to marry and flood the prisons with love letters to. People chasing clout on social media have it all wrong. Serial killer fame lasts much longer. I sip my black coffee, as relaxed as can be, wondering when I'll find my next victim.