By Carter Hank McKater, SK* (*SK=licensed serial killer)
Carter Hank McKater pseudonym for Shannon Kirk
The new guard doesn’t know jack about who I am. I’m Carter Hank McKater, dammit. If he knew, he would have cuffed my ankles too, made me hobble-walk to the barred-window prison bus. I ain’t being released, ain’t going to some highway to collect no fucking litter. Nope. My “prison work” is to go talk to some jackass writers at some jackass conference, in the middle of damn July, in New York City. Thrillerfest or some shit. A bunch of eager writers want to hear from an expert on where to hide a body. I’m the expert, cuz ain’t nobody found alls my bodies. They unearthed the three I wanted ‘em to—only cuz I needed credit for my genius dismemberments. The credit convinced the Serial Killer Licensing Board—made up of me, myself, and I—to finally grant me my SK license. Made myself a few “trophies” to mark the occasion, if you know what I mean.
The stifling air is as blazin’ as the stove my daddy use ta hold my elbow on to teach me lessons. Friggin’ July, and this orange jumpsuit’s wet with sweat, crinklin’ around my hot balls, which are smashed on the green pleather bus seat. With all this orange and green, I’m the main attraction in a demented Halloween scene. I’d adjust my parts down there away from my sticky thigh if my hands weren’t cuffed behind my back.
One fat-ass pimple dominates dumb-nuts new guard’s right eyelid. The pressure of the puss within the thin casing of skin seems to make his whole lid pulse. It’s disgusting. He’s vile. The old-man-river bus driver just gave Pimple Lid the download on who the hells I am. Revealing weakness, Pimple Lid cowers in a slouch when he looks at me, chained in place at the back of the bus. The burn scars on my elbows crackle to life; and so I see Pimple Lid as only one thing: Next Victim.
But how? When? And where would I hide his body? I’m cuffed, guarded, and he’ll hold me at gunpoint when I’m at the lectern teaching those writer fucks. Anyway, what’s gurgling in the back of my mind is this conundrum. Yeah, I said conundrum. I’m no slackjaw, like I know you thought. I graduated from Florida State—and hid a few bodies in the Everglades. A big ol’ hot swamp with high grass sure is one place to hide a body fine. Decompose all fast, alligators rip off limbs, destroying evidence of wound patterns. Ain’t no blood to test in the dispersing waters.
This Pimple Lid, I need to end him. I should be thinking on my presentation. But alls I need to do is talk truth, and couch the truth in hypotheticals. As if I’d come right out and say where I did hide bodies—even though ain’t nobody never gonna find nothing anyway. Hypos are safe, and true, so fuck it.
We arrive in downtown New York City. A big hotel, many dozens of stories. I crane my neck to see how high. Dickhead Pimple Lid don’t give me no time to count the floors before pushing me to proceed through a gray door off the deserted back alley. I make sure to complain about the heat and rotting stench down here—need to plant this mental bookmark in his brain for something I’m planning for later. I note to my own brains how the lid on the dumpster is open, the inside empty. A further fortune for me is ain’t nobody want to see some prison fool in an orange jumper in the front lobby. We climb twenty-one floors, which leaves many more flights up from here.
Pimple Lid shifts weight between his feet like he got to pee or like he’s unsure of his post, as I take the podium in the hotel’s grand, incredibly over-air-conditioned ballroom. He had shoved some remote clicker in my hands behind my back, so I press where he said, and my presentation blinks to life.
A geometric-patterned, low-pile carpet of dark purple and green turns the entire space into a nauseating update to the feel of The Shining. The room is packed with eight-rounds and four-rounds, all filled with writer-types. A lot of men with long-ish hair, one under a cowboy hat, one white-haired scary lookin’ fella, women in sweaters, fighting off the arctic temperature, here in July. Pimple Lid watches me, twitching his lower lip. I hate weakness. Normally, I eat weakness.
I start my speech with a scowl and a cough. Some grandma with a “DEBUT” pin stabbed in the lapel of her knitted jacket sits at an eight-round in the front. Eight-round I know cuz I use ta manage a restaurant. One place to hide a body is in plastic boxes (those Rubbermaid shits you get at that damn colossal wasteland of humanity: The Container Store). Put the boxes in the restaurant’s walk-in freezer. Write “CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS” in a Sharpie on the sides, duct tape the bitches, round and round. Because you’re the damn manager and you hired only the lowest-rated humans, all your ne’er-do-wells, crackhead losers, and illegal immigrants could not give one fuck about Christmas decorations. At some point, move the boxes, along with two broken chairs, to a storage facility. This is so obvious, I know.
I click to the first slide, which I made by using the prison library computer and PowerPoint program.
“If you’re a Serial Killer and you don’t own a boat, you’re a Grade-A clown. You deserve to be caught. Cleanest way to get rid of a body is tie three cinder blocks to the corpse, throw overboard. Motor to where the fish is, using your sonar—which you also need to drop the body, of course. Pop a cap on a cool one and fish the day away.”
All these writers in the audience are giggling, nodding heads all serious, agreeing with me: yes, indeed, if you’re a serial killer and don’t own a boat, you are for sure a clown. I go through the slide, explaining all the shit you need to research.
Two women writers in pastel cardigans eye me with lust, probably wanting to crack my skull for alls my ideas so they can out-write Jo Nesbo on crazy and clinch a spot in the New York Times bestseller list. They’ll do anything for my mind truths, even sleep with me. I can tell in the way one fixes her lipstick. Pimple Lid’s looking the other way at a clock on the wall. He’s got an itchy, shaky trigger finger on his stupid gun.
“The messiest, but certainly the most enjoyable, way to dispose of a body is the Spaghetti and Meat Chunks Shuffle. Part of this requires dicing the body in a tub so the blood goes down the drain. Duh.”
The conference crowd chortles. I go through the particulars on the slide.
Writers are scribbling away, documenting my lessons: the different kinds of saws you’ll need, one for bone, one for muscle, etc.; ways to block the stench of rotting flesh. I pause to nod Pimple Lid to come up to me, making my face red. I whisper, “I need air.” Only one place has clean air and is safe, in his mind, to take me and not cause a scene.
Hotel waiters begin plunking plates with slabs of banquet chicken around the tables for the audience members. I lick my lips, not at the thought of food, but at a memory the chicken calls to mind of white skin drying in a desert sun.
I return to my presentation, but hurry the conclusion because I’m desperate to be somewhere with Pimple Lid. Now.
“Creating the appearance of self-harm is a great way to hide a victim. Plain sight.” I click to the next slide.
I step away from the mic on clicking to the last slide and drop the clicker.
I turn to Pimple Lid.
“Man, I’m cuffed, can’t you take me to the roof for some real air? I’m freezing and I can’t breathe. I’m dying.” My face is full-out strawberry red. I start a minor hyperventilation.
“Fine. Fine. Hurry up,” he says, prodding me to walk in front of him, my arms still banded behind my back.
We’re on the black roof, looking out over New York City, over Grand Central Station, and more closely, the people-ants crawling on 42nd below. I smile.
“Can you please hold your bottle of water up to my lips? I’m going to pass out,” I say. I feign a coughing spell.
Pimple Lid steps as close as he’s willing, a complete arm’s length away. Holding the bottle, he tips the rim to my lips. I pretend I can’t reach and, acting like a clumsy moron, which is easy cuz I don’t got the use of my hands, knock it to the ground. Of course the dipshit follows the fall of the bottle with his head. I smash my impressive and hard cranium into his unimpressive cranium and clock the asshole out.
I twirl, crouch to the floor of the roof, grab his keys, and because I am an absolute expert, I free my hands, blinded and backwards and upside down. The first thing I do is the one thing I’ve been aching to do all day. I tweezer my fingers on his damn lid pimple and pop the puss to ooze in his eye folds. He is a repulsive individual for walking around with a pregnant blemish on his face. I am personally insulted to have to share air with someone who deems his own self worthless, not worthy to clean his own dumb face.
And he is, no doubt, worthless to the world now. I choke alls the air out of his unconscious lungs. Then I switch our clothes and roll him over the edge, aiming his body for the empty dumpster in the alley. As luck and skill are on my side: bullseye. I wait about five minutes and almost as if I cued him, a hotel worker blindly hurls two bags of trash into the dumpster; the bags thunk thunk on top of the orange fabric and human soup staining the bottom. Dressed as a guard, I descend the hotel’s stairwell, meta-fucking-morphisizin’ into an anonymous vapor with each flight down. After I make a costume change (or two), dye my hair, and steal a Yankees hat and pair of BluBlockers, I’ll pay those two lustful women writers a visit in their hotel rooms. Yeah, I read their nametags.
SHANNON KIRK has been honored three times by the Faulkner Society in the William Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition for her works Heavens (2012 finalist), Method 15/33 (2013 finalist), and Impossibility of Interplanetary Love (2014 short-list finalist). When not practicing law, Shannon writes in several genres: literary fiction, suspense/thriller, and young adult.