I'm going to start with the first section of a short story I started writing early last year. Look forward to hearing what you think (both good and bad)!
A Serial Killer’s Guide to Happiness
By Arnulfo Moreno
Osvaldo stared at the old iron door. The fresh coat of red paint only seemed to draw more attention to the rust coated edges. He uncrossed his legs and reached for his worn out laptop bag turned briefcase. After fumbling through a 10-day-old apple, Slim Jim wrappers, and a handful of 7-11 receipts, Osvaldo pulled out a thick brown folder. He set the folder on the round plastic table. It was only 10:15 am.
The first page of the folder was never impressive; containing a person’s life story in 400 hundred unimaginative words made all the more exciting with Times New Roman font. Osvaldo quickly flipped to the pictures. The first was a polaroid of a middle-aged woman who appeared to be a brunette though it was hard to tell due to the pool of blood surrounding her head. The slit across her throat was the likely source of the blood.
The next picture had a man face down on a linoleum floor. Osvaldo’s expression remained blank. It was hard to tell the man’s age. Probably mid-to-late 30’s. Unlike the previous picture, there was no blood. Osvaldo noticed that the man’s left hand had been removed and only a stump wrapped in a plastic grocery bag remained. Due to the time gap between murders, the physical quality of the photograph was also improved, not quite up to current standards, but much better than the polaroid.
Osvaldo continued to flip through the pictures, each more gruesome than the last. After he finished looking at all 33 pictures, Osvaldo looked at the small inappropriately placed window on the 8 foot cinder block wall. Not much could be seen through the steel mesh and iron bars. The dull yellow light shining through the forest of steel and iron did little to overpower the florescent bulbs. Osvaldo let out a soft sigh; he should probably throw the apple away.
The old iron door abruptly swung open. Surprisingly, it didn’t creek. “Prisoner number 203C1 Amano, Bruce entering the room,” said an omniscient voice. Osvaldo knew only two kinds of people walked through that door: young punks who think they’re God, or worn out middle-aged men who know they’re not. After a quick glance, Osvaldo knew that Bruce fell in with the second group.
Bruce sat directly across from Osvaldo in the only available chair, his iron chains rattling against the table and floor. Osvaldo placed the intake sheet on top of the brown folder. His mind wandered to a time when people in handcuffs made him feel uneasy.
“Hi Mr. Amano. I’m Osvaldo and am part of your public defender’s team. I work with your lawyer, Alex, to ensure that you have a fair and just trial. Today we will be doing an intake and evaluation.” Osvaldo never took his eyes off of the client when he gave his 10 second introduction. Lack of eye contact is a sign of weakness.
“So that we’re clear, since I am part of your legal team, we have the same confidentiality agreement that you have with your lawyer.” Osvaldo picked up the intake form. “So Mr. Amano, do you have any questions?”
Bruce smiled warmly and looked at Osvaldo, “no but I’m sure I will. And please call me Bruce.”
Osvaldo pulled out an ornate ballpoint pen from his pocket. Planes, clouds, and countries decorated the gold plated writing utensil.
“I have your basic information so I wanted to begin by getting a bit of your family history.”
“Sure. Where do you want me to start?” Bruce seemed eager to answer any questions Osvaldo might have, treating this situation like a job interview.
“You have two parents and one sibling, right? Tell me what a typical day was like in the Amano household.”
The chains rattled as Bruce leaned back, “pretty tame compared to the shenanigans kids are getting into these days. My dad was an engineer but he’s retired now though he still invents little trinkets in his garage. My mom stayed at home but also ran a small real estate empire. And my brother was cool though occasionally a bit of an asshole. Just your typical church going suburban family.”
Osvaldo quickly jotted down: mother and brother past tense, “church going”.
“So you all went to church regularly?”
“Yeah, I mean as regular as any family, at least at the time. I doubt many families go now.”
Osvaldo added to his notes. Bruce noticed.
“We weren’t a fire and brimstone type family. We went because that’s just what you did on Sundays. I think my father still goes.”
“Do you consider yourself a religious man, Bruce?”
Bruce stared at the barred window, “well I believe in God…a creator; you’d have to be an idiot not to.” Bruce looked at Osvaldo, “What’s harder to comprehend is an all-loving God, at least in the way we understand love.”
“How do you understand love, Bruce?”
“I think most people confuse lust with love. Don’t get me wrong, when you bang someone that you love, the sex is amazing but love has nothing to do with sex or lust. The sad thing is, movies, TV, music…society in general keeps perpetuating this lust/love myth.”
“So what is love, Bruce?”
“Baby don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me no more!”
Bruce and Osvaldo laughed. Osvaldo quickly tried to regain his composure. Bruce kept a smile plastered on his face.
“Osvaldo you set me up, I just had to go for it. But in all seriousness, I am still trying to answer that question myself. Some people say that love is completely denying yourself and putting the needs of others before you. I don’t know about that.” Bruce awkwardly picked up his chains and crossed his legs, “if love comes from God, it can’t really be tied to human needs or emotions. Love, like God and gravity, can’t be measured or explained in and of itself. Only its effects can.” Osvaldo crossed his legs.
“Amano, time’s up,” the omniscient voice at the entryway called out. Osvaldo had not notice the door open.
After Bruce left, Osvaldo sat in his chair and looked at the table. He had a stack of gruesome crime scene photos and his notes, which had turned into a treatise on metaphysical love. Osvaldo threw everything into his bag and walked to the door. On his way out he remembered to toss the rotted apple.