It was a cool and rainy October night. Sam was in his living room fixing to pour himself a glass of brandy. Sam was a newly retired writer, his latest book was hitting the shelves just in time for Halloween. Sam had published over thirty award winning horror and thriller novels, more than half of them best sellers. Questions rose why such a talented master of horror was closing the book on his career, but he refused to comment. Sam had no interest in interviews. He found them to be boring and did not consider himself a man of many words regardless of his published works.
Still, he kept to himself in attempts to avoid any pesky intern from pestering him with unsolicited questions. He lived a quiet life, alone in his home, where he was fixated on what he loved the most. The books Sam published were about serial killers or had at least an antagonist whose sole mission was to kill. The protagonists in his stories almost never succeeded in getting away which is what his readers enjoyed. He was notorious for only writing a happy ending for his killers.
Sam had a copy of each of his books displayed neatly on his wooden bookcase along the wall of his living room that he had converted into a massive study. They were displayed in the middle of the room with unpublished manuscripts and other works that were not his own. He often gazed at them with adoration, organized by the year they were written, not published. They were hard back with dark covers and deep colors like blood red and black leather. He had some specially engraved with gold lettering on the spine. They were beautiful. His books, all of them, were his pride and joy, the equivalence of a trophy.
Sam picked up his glass and began drinking out of it while he was admiring his bookcase with a grin. He took a hand and slowly started to graze his books in a row with the tips of his fingers.
“It’s over now,” he whispered with his nose practically touching the books and his eyes shut tight. “You’re all I have left.”
A sudden rage caused Sam to chug the rest of the brandy and throw his glass to the wall across from him. The glass shattered into pieces as Sam let out an angry yell.
There was a knock at the door that startled Sam. He looked over at the clock on his lamp stand. 9:00 PM.
He wasn’t expecting anyone, ever, but he decided to see who it was.
He opened the door to find a man with a young face, maybe around his early twenties judging by the little facial hair he had. His eyes were round and as big as the moon and his dark curly hair had fallen over them wet from the rain. Still, the man did not seem to be bothered by it. He appeared to be jolly even in the stormy weather.
“So sorry to bother,” the man said with a childlike smile. “My car broke down and I don’t have cell service, would you mind lending me your phone to call someone?”
Sam stared at the man for a minute without saying anything. He stood tall like a tomb blocking the doorway from this neurotic stranger.
“It’ll only be for a minute” the man said still smiling with teeth so white, the moonlight could reflect off them.
Sam then moved to the side, saying nothing, but allowing the man to get by. The man came in cheerfully and noticed the shattered glass on the floor.
“Am I interrupting the party?” he joked shaking his wet curls.
“You just missed it.” Sam replied shrewdly slamming the door behind him, wiping droplets of water that got on his face from the man’s head shaking.
“Oh.” The man smiled anyway. “Thanks for letting me in, I know you’re probably busy with other things.”
The man began to take off his jacket and fold it in his arms. Like a child, his head wandered around the room to see minimal decorations that included a simple brown writers’ desk, an old leather recliner, and a minibar next to the fireplace. Center to the boring brown walls was Sam’s bookcase. The man approached the bookcase curiously like he had just found a shiny new toy.
“Didn’t you say you needed a phone?” Sam asked with some irritation in his voice.
The room fell completely silent in just the few seconds that Sam handed his cell phone to the man. Sam found short moments like these to feel like uncomfortable lengths of time when he was uninterested. It made his temper run short.
“I’m Spencer by the way.” He reached to shake Sam’s hand.
“I didn’t ask.”
Sam dismissed the handshake and turned around to pour himself another glass.
Spencer pressed some numbers on the phone screen and held it up to his ear. He brought it back down, “Hmm, no service either. Must be the storm.” He hands the phone back to Sam, “Mind if I stay here until I can call someone?”
Even though Sam looked disgruntled by the request, Spencer didn’t seem to be bothered. He was either just a naïve kid or completely arrogant by thinking it was okay to impose on a complete stranger’s night.
Sam turned his back on Spencer without an answer. He remained facing his minibar preparing a second glass.
“Okay then,” said Spencer retrieving his hand and pacing his way back to the bookcase.
“I’m a big fan, you know.” He said with his hands in his pants pockets and leaning in towards the books. “Midnight Killer was the one that did for me. I’ve been hooked ever since, Samuel Foutch.”
Sam put a glass down but did not turn around.
“You are the author of these books, aren’t you?” Spencer asked trying to contain the excitement in his voice.
A small grin appeared on Sam’s face. Another desperate artist starving for work.
“Your books are brilliant. Disturbing, but brilliant” Spencer smiled. “It’s a shame you won’t be writing anymore.”
Sam walks up to Spencer and hands him the glass of brandy.
“It’s really not. My decision was made to help me find peace.” He raised his glass to Spencer cuing him to take a drink. Spencer followed.
Spencer laughed nervously. “Of course! Novel after novel, it must be exhausting having to create such heinous characters. How do you do it?”
Sam laughed. “I write what I know.”
Spencer took another drink. “Ah, you must be a killer-crazed fan. Do you watch a lot of documentaries?”
“I do not.”
“Really? They are everywhere nowadays. You can easily watch them through any network.”
“I don’t really like watching tv.” Sam replied, twirling his drink in his glass with a bored look on his face.
Long seconds of silenced filled the room again. Spencer started to tap his fingers against the glass in tune with the rain that was falling against the windowpane and turned his body slightly back towards the bookcase.
“I see you have a lot of books. Do you read about killers in order to study them?”
Sam did not look up.
“I do not.”
Spencer was quiet, he did not want to agitate the writer any further.
“May I try your phone again, Mr.Foutch?”
Sam grinned handing him back the cell phone. “You know, Spencer, I really don’t like interviews. They’re a waste of time and I find them boring. Being a big fan and all, I figure you would know that.”
Spencer held the phone to his ear.
“But if you must know, I chose to stop writing because as successful as my novels are, they take so much out of me.”
Spencer put the phone down slowly. No service.
“Why is that?” Spencer asked.
“Because of the killings, Spencer! Every time I kill, I thirst for a new book.” Sam points at his bookcase behind Spencer and starts walking towards it. He grips Spencer on the shoulder firmly with one hand while the other points at his creations.
“You see, Spencer, every successful killer has a trophy. Some keep trinkets of their victims like jewelry, locks of hair, or bones.”
Spencer was starting to feel uncomfortable now, but he was too scared to move.
“But I find that extremely boring. Trophies are meant for display, wouldn’t you agree?” Sam did not smile this time. He gripped onto Spencer’s shoulder tighter.
Spencer wanted to run, but felt like he was nailed to the ground. His head felt fuzzy and his body became paralyzed. Blurry blotches of Sam was all he could see until the room went completely dark.
The rain had stopped and Sam was in another room of his house that was lit with bright white lights. He was washing his hands in the sink and whistled a cheery tune as blood ran down the drain. His clothes were stained and his hair was wet. He took a rag and wiped blood and sweat from his forehead. He walked back to his study where he poured himself another glass of brandy, this time, all the way to the top. He easily knocked it back and let out a great breath. He felt refreshed. Awake.
He made his way back to the bookcase to admire his beauties. He looked at them in lust for they were his heart and soul. His trophies.
“Perhaps another won’t hurt.” He smiled.
He sat at his desk, rolled up his blood-stained sleeves and began typing away his next masterpiece, for old time’s sake.