“Can you keep a secret?” My little girl whispered in my ear. Annabel had her tiny hand over her mouth. “Daddy killed a lady.”
Daddy killed a lady? Why would my baby say that? Her father’s not a killer, is he? I wanted to believe my daughter. There was a killer on the loose. They called this killer, The Violator. According to the news reports, The Violator already killed seven people. The first victim was a mother of two. The police discovered the woman’s body in a pond. Some of her body parts were missing.
The police also found human remains scattered in an open field. The reports say that The Violator attacks at night and in the daytime. I’m a nurse and I work nights at a local hospital. I leave work at around 7:00 in the morning. The underground garage where I park my car is eerily dark. I hate parking my car down there. It’s still dark in the morning when I leave work. Sometimes I feel like I’m being watched.
I hate the darkness. I’m in the dark at the moment and it’s just me and my daughter. I think the power went out. I’m in my daughter’s bedroom. I was reading her a bedtime story when she told me her secret. A secret that her daddy wanted her to keep. I know my daughter has an imagination and she can lie when she wants to. I mean, she’s five years old for god sakes. We’ve all lied when we were five. No child is an angel. But my daughter loves her daddy, so why would she lie? Why would she tell me he killed someone? Is this a prank? Did my husband put my daughter up to this?
I asked my daughter to repeat what she said and she did. My blood ran cold after she repeated herself. “Honey, you shouldn’t say things like that about your daddy.” This is what I said to her. “I know me and your daddy had an argument, so are you saying that daddy killed a lady because you’re mad at him? Tell Mommy the truth. Are you making this up?” I watched Annabel shake her head to my question.
“I’m not making it up, Mommy. Daddy killed a lady. He shot her.” My daughter became more elaborate with her story. “He shot her in the head. She had something sharp in her hand. She stabbed him, and that’s when he shot her. She couldn’t fight anymore.” My baby told me this with an earnest sparkle in her little eyes. I couldn’t tell if she was lying or telling me the truth. I preferred my daughter’s story to be a lie. I stood up from my daughter’s bed after she went into details with her story. My mind went into overdrive. Is my husband The Violator? Did my daughter find out by accident? If my husband’s a killer, then how did my daughter find out? Is he taking my baby with him when he goes to kill people? Why would Jerry do that? Wait a minute, I can’t believe this. My daughter is lying. She has to be.
It was 9:00 at night and my husband wasn’t at home. At least I assumed he wasn’t at home. I married my husband ten years ago. He was a rookie cop when we first got married. He got promoted to detective after he graduated from college with a degree in criminal justice. He solved a kidnapping crime two years ago. A woman’s son went missing. The woman was a judge. It turns out that a disgruntled former prosecutor kidnapped the woman’s baby. My husband found the child alive in the trunk of a car. The car belonged to the former prosecutor. My husband saved a child’s life. He’s a police detective now. Why would he be a killer? They say it’s always the one you least expect.
“Are you okay, Mommy?” My daughter’s sweet voice takes me away from my dazed thoughts. She looks at me with worry on her face. Her tiny red lips are open slightly. I walk back over to her bed and I comb my fingers through her curly golden-brown hair.
“Yes Baby, I’m fine. Your mommy was just thinking about something.” I study my daughter’s plump face. Her cheeks are still keeping their baby fat. Her doll-like eyes are bright and unguarded. I kneel beside her bed with the back of my hand stroking her chin. I guess I’m shocked by what’s going on. I don’t want to think my daughter is lying to me, but also don’t want my husband to be The Violator. You mean to tell me I married a man who’s going around the city chopping up innocent people. I had a baby with someone who’s a psycho. No, that can’t be right. “Baby, I want you to tell me the truth. You said Daddy shot a woman. Where were you when he killed this lady?” My voice is firm, but I try not to make my daughter feel uncomfortable. I’m still touching her chubby face.
“I was in my bedroom,” Annabel tells me. I stare at my baby suspiciously.
“If you were in your bedroom, then how do you know Daddy killed a woman?” I feel guilty for grilling my daughter, but I have to know the truth. Asking my little girl these questions is the only thing that’s keeping me from going into shock. My hands feel wet and so does the rest of my body. I hate sweating. It always makes my skin itch. My heart feels like a giant frog trying to leap out of my chest. Jerry will be home any minute now and I’m trying to get the truth out of my daughter. I keep thinking about the news reports. I keep thinking about the human remains discovered in the field and the decomposed body of the woman found in the pond. Was that the body of the lady who was shot? But they said nothing about her being shot on the news. They said the killer partially decapitated her. They also said that her hands and feet were missing.
“I saw Daddy shoot the lady. He shot her in the hallway right outside my bedroom.” My child was answering my questions while her mommy had fallen into a shocked daze. I woke up when I heard her voice again.
“Your daddy shot the woman outside your bedroom? Baby, are you sure you’re not making this up just to get back at your daddy?” I badly want to hear my daughter say that she’s making the whole thing up so my mind can be at peace again. But she keeps telling me the same thing.
“Mommy! I’m not making it up!” I saw tears forming in her little eyes when she defended herself this time. She’s either lying to her mommy or she’s a damn good little actress. I grabbed her wrists and jerked her forward, which probably brought the tears to her eyes. Before I realized what I had done, it was too late. I’m scaring my baby. I can’t be forceful with her.
“I’m sorry, Baby. I didn’t mean to grab you.” I try to calm her and it works. She gives me a slight smile when I go back to stroking my fingers through her hair. I didn’t know what else to say to my daughter. I didn’t want to keep grilling her and feeling like a terrible mom. My sleeveless nightgown is sticking to my body. I’m trying to stop sweating.
I fidget with my necklace and the silver crucifix pendant that’s resting between my breasts. I could feel my heartbeat increase after I realized that my daughter was telling me the truth. My daughter has lied to me before. Every time I’d grab her wrists and yank her towards me, she’d tell me the truth. That didn’t happen this time. Her story didn’t change, and after the way I grabbed her, she would have definitely changed her story for fear of getting a spanking. My baby was telling me the truth and I still didn’t want to believe it. I wanted to grab my daughter and run out of the house. I wanted to go to the police. I also thought about taking Annabel to my sister’s house and telling her what my daughter told me.
“Don’t be afraid, Mommy. Daddy killed the lady, and it’s over now.” Annabel said this to me, and it was the strangest thing I had ever heard my baby say. She must be in shock. How can you not go into shock after you find out that your daddy is a killer? They only found the remains and the bodies of four people. There are three bodies still unaccounted for. God knows what those three bodies will look like when the police find them. Did my husband do it? Did he kill these people? Is he The Violator? No, not my husband. Not Jerry. We have our marital fights, but I still love him. I can’t picture my husband wandering through the city at night, abducting innocent people and slaughtering them. If he’s killing people, is he doing it to spite me? Is he angry about our marriage deteriorating and he’s taking it out on innocent civilians? Does he want to kill me and Annabel, but he can’t bring himself to do it? Is it displaced aggression? Jerry’s always had problems with his temper. A month ago, he smashed a dinner plate on the wall when I told him I had to work late.
My troubled thoughts ran deep. I was still kneeling beside my daughter’s bed. I thought about taking my daughter and leaving the house, but then I heard him come in. I heard footsteps coming from downstairs. Those footsteps were coming up the stairs now. I never heard him come into the house. It’s like the sound of his footsteps appeared downstairs. Now I could hear his footsteps marching down the hallway, getting closer to my daughter’s bedroom. My eyes fell on the doorknob when I saw it slowly rotating. I tried to grab my daughter, but it was too late. My husband stepped into the room and I could still make out his face beyond the darkness. I saw something in his hand. It looked like something metallic.
Oh my God, he has a gun! I think it’s a gun! I can’t tell through the darkness! God, please don’t let him kill us! I don’t want the love of my life to murder me and my daughter! If he shoots his daughter, he’ll be shooting his baby! I couldn’t breathe. I was too afraid to breathe. I attempted to grab Annabel, but then her bedroom light came on. I froze when I looked and saw Jerry standing at the foot of my daughter’s bed.
“You’re supposed to be asleep, Sweetheart.” That’s what my husband said. But then he said this and my heart stopped. “Were you talking to Mommy’s ghost again?” I look around at my daughter and she nods her head at her daddy. What the hell is he talking about, Mommy’s ghost?
“What are you talking about?” I say out loud to Jerry, but he never responds to my voice. He just keeps talking to my daughter, saying more disturbing things about me. He’s holding his phone, which I thought was a gun.
“You want to sleep with Daddy tonight? Daddy will protect you. I don’t want the ghost of a murderer harassing my baby while she’s trying to sleep.” The ghost of a murderer? What on earth is Jerry talking about? I’m not a murderer!
“Excuse me, Honey! I’m standing right here just to let you know! You don’t have to be an asshole in front of our daughter!” I’m yelling at Jerry now, but he still ignores my voice. I feel myself getting angry. That’s odd, I felt scared a minute ago, but now I have no fear. My husband just keeps talking and pissing me off.
“You know I still loved your mom even after finding out she was The Violator. That’s what love is all about, Sweetheart. When you marry someone, you gotta love the bad and the good. I didn’t want to shoot your mommy that night, but I had to protect you. I found out she had killed all those people, and I confronted her in the kitchen instead of keeping my mouth shut. I should have just told my superior. I didn’t want to believe she was the killer. She was my wife and your mommy. Your daddy was in shock. I didn’t want to kill her, but I had to do something when she went upstairs with the knife. I can’t believe I survived after she stabbed me. I foolishly confronted her, not realizing that she could go off, which is what she did. I put you in danger.” I watch my husband’s eyes sink. I’m seeing tears swelling up in his eyes.
“Don’t feel bad, Daddy.” My daughter says to him. “I just spoke to Mommy. I told her you killed a lady, but Mommy didn’t know that she was the lady. Mommy doesn’t know she’s dead yet. And I don’t think she knows that she killed people. I think when you’re a spirit you forget things.” My daughter speaks to her father like a little school teacher and I see all the blood drain from Jerry’s face. My husband looks terrified and I feel my body getting heated. But as I’m getting mad, my memory comes back to me.
“Is Mommy in the room right now?” My husband’s voice is trembling behind his question. His body straightens. I watch as my daughter points up at me. My husband looks around, but his frightened eyes are looking through me, not at me. While all this is happening, my memory is still unfolding. I feel this irrational rage growing inside me. What is this? Why am I feeling this way? I saw images flash in my head. I see severed fingers and toes. I see a knife and blood on my hands. What is this? Who am I? As I’m trying to figure myself out, my husband snatches my daughter out of the bed. He tries to carry her out of the room, but I jump in front of him and I slam the bedroom door. My husband screams and my daughter is calm about it. I guess she still sees her mommy, while her daddy only saw the bedroom door slam shut on its own. Jerry is shaking as he backs away from the door, clutching Annabel in his arms.
“Mommy, don’t be an evil ghost! You’re scaring Daddy!” My daughter fusses at me through her soft, angelic voice and she points her pint-sized finger at me. She locks her adorable brown eyes on my face while her daddy’s eyes are still trying to find what she’s looking at. All he sees is the damn wall behind me. He’s so irritating. I want to kill him for shooting me. My memory comes to me and I wanted my memory to stay away. So what! I killed seven people! That still didn’t give Jerry the right to shoot me. Now I’m a ghost because of him. He deserved to get stabbed. I should have stabbed his ass more than once. I want to kill him but he shouts out something after my daughter whispers something in his ear.
“I love you! I forgive you for the things you’ve done and I want you to forgive me for shooting you! I only shot you because I didn’t want you to hurt Annabel! You stabbed me and then you went upstairs with the knife! Honey, I had to do something! I couldn’t let you kill us. I shouldn’t have told you I knew you were the killer. I found your earring on one of your victim’s bodies. The earring you lost. I should have pocketed the earring and kept my mouth shut. But I had to say something. I don’t know why you killed those people. I guess you were mad at me for cheating on you and you expressed your anger through murderous impulses! You killed those people when you really wanted to kill me! I guess I’m the one who set you off and I’m sorry for what I did. If you continue to haunt this house, I’ll still love you. I loved you as my wife. I loved you for being the mother of my child. I loved you after finding out you were The Violator. And I’ll still love you as a ghost. Please let us leave this room for now. I know you’re mad at me and I don’t blame you. My love for you will never perish. I just want you to know that!”
After my husband gave that long speech, I cried. I felt guilty and worthless after my memories revealed that I was the monster. “I love you, Baby!” I said to my husband, but I knew he couldn’t hear me. Thankfully, my daughter could hear me and she told him what I said. I watched as my husband broke down in tears. I allowed a few minutes to pass before I opened the door, freeing my husband and my daughter. My daughter waved at me one last time while my husband ran out of the bedroom and never looked back. While he was running, I heard him telling Annabel that they were moving into a new place. I watched as my husband bolted down the stairs with our daughter in his arms and I understood his fear of me. I mean, I was the ghost of a serial killer…. God, I hate that I lost my earring!