SUSPICION OF EVIL
A Novel By: Amy Auer
It was three months ago in August that century old oaks and extreme maples scattering the land were fully clad in brilliant shades of red, orange, and yellow.
It was the time of year he loved the most. It was a time when he had felt normal.
Now, raped of shield and color the massive trees were nothing more than skeletal statues, waving while soundless breaths of bone-chilled air passed through each naked limb in a sinister way.
He was dressed in total black, seated in a corner of the barn. He was virtually lifeless and silent. He waited patiently as he most always did, while watching the dusky sky through a break in the wooden structure.
Outside, the darkness continued to rush in. Inside, he could see the beginnings of shadows lurking on moonlit striped walls.
The first time he had come here, he knew just by looking that the old house was in dire need of repairs. It was sheathed in a growth of ivy that had grown rampant over too many years of neglect. Several of the wooden shutters that decorated the windows now hung flaccidly, barely clinging to life. While others had already met their demise and littered the ground below; resting on a layer of glass, broken and battered. Light colored paint which appeared to have been yellow at one time was now heavily bleached, flaked and detaching.
To him the house was simply beautiful.
He knew the family all too well. He knew that the husband was gone tonight and wouldn’t be home for quite some time. He knew the lady of the house sipped a generous glass of brandy while watching the eleven o’clock news in the master bedroom. When the news was over she would check the children one last time then she would go to bed. He knew there were three of the little brats, and he knew exactly which room belonged to whom. After all, he had been in the house numerous times.
He was sometimes a patient man and other times he could be nearly out of control. He continued watching through the gap in the wooden barn wall. Except for the dim moonlight, complete darkness covered the gloom of dusk.
It was still relatively early in the evening and he knew that he had at least three hours before he could carry out his plan. Since other things needed to be done before he could enter the house, this was fine.
He had come prepared with a packed duffle bag containing several essential items for tonight’s work. He reached out to his left, retrieved the bag and set it on his lap. He had no problem maneuvering in the dark since he had had practiced it many times before. Unzipping the bag, he reached inside and pulled out a can of Pringles and one of the two sandwiches he had packed. He also took out a black thermos which he had filled earlier in the day with steaming coffee. He removed the sandwich from a Ziploc baggie then filled the plastic lid of the thermos with the pungent black liquid. Deeper inside the bag was a bottle of chloroform wrapped in a small linen cloth, a roll of duct tape, and a large hunting knife.
He had also brought along a pistol. It was a classic Smith & Wesson model 41, given to him by his grandfather on his thirteenth birthday. Although he didn’t think he would need it, he decided to bring it along at the last minute, just in case. He also packed a small penlight which he would use to read the final chapter of How to Commit the Perfect Murder. This he knew was a must before he could even think about entering the house.
He took a bite of the sandwich, savoring the combined flavors of ham and Swiss while watching the distant house windows.
Most of the downstairs windows were dark except for one. He knew the luminosity was coming from the kitchen area. He retrieved the penlight from his bag, shined the small beam on his watch and checked the time. It was nearing eight o’clock.
They were no doubt finishing up with dinner.
As quick as he had turned the light on, he just as quickly turned it back off and dropped it back into the black bag.
No time for mistakes now, he thought.
He took a sip of the tepid black liquid and knew it was only going to be a matter of minutes now before she carted the little brats up the stairs to give them their baths and then tuck them into their little beds for the night.
“I know your daily routine almost better than you do sweetheart.” A disturbed grin decorated his mouth the moment he whispered the words.
He finished off his sandwich and a handful of the salty chips, and then drank the remainder of the coffee that was in the plastic lid that served its purpose as a cup.
Although his butt was now beginning to tingle, he remained in place.
It was only a matter of minutes before the kitchen lights turned off and the lower level of the house went dark. Had the husband been home, the two of them would no doubt be nestled by the fireplace, probably engrossed in a good movie. Instead, he knew the lady would retreat to the bedroom, read a book while sipping her brandy and wait for the evening news.
The moment the lights went out he felt his own heart throb against his chest, faster and faster and faster. In his ears, he heard the rush of blood roar through his veins like a rampant tidal wave ready to come ashore.
He covered both ears with his hands just as he always did when the excitement came and began rocking his body back and forth, back and forth, and back and forth. He knew it would soon pass; it always did. Sometimes he came when these episodes of excitement happened and sometimes he didn’t. Tonight he prayed he would stay away. Yet, he knew that all of the prayers in the world wouldn’t help him tonight.
He would come. It was just a matter of time.
When the excitement finally passed, he figured it was safe enough to stand and stretch. Even though he was mostly a patient man, one could only sit in the same spot for so long. His muscles ached and his legs cramped. His butt was another story. It was no longer tingling and falling asleep. It was numb and unfeeling as though it was no longer a part of him. His butt had slipped into a coma.
When he had finished stretching his cramped muscles and slapping his butt back to awareness, he trickled back down to a seated position on the dirt floor and retrieved his duffle bag. Once he had the bag in his lap he unzipped it, reached inside and rummaged around the bottom until his hand finally grasped the penlight. He removed the light from the bag, set it beside him and then went back to work until his hand managed to seize the book.
He took another look at the house and saw that it was still looming in darkness.
Once he removed the book, he reached for the penlight then stood up. He figured it would be safer if he moved to the other side of the barn where the wooden walls were impenetrable. He knew now was not the time to be stupid. The last thing he needed was to be caught.
He settled down in the far corner of the barn, turned on the small beam of light, opened the book to the final chapter and began reading.
The ending he decided, was rather useless. Well, for him anyway. It talked of hiding victims where they wouldn’t be found, getting rid of evidence and cleaning up the crime scene the right way. He didn’t want to any of those things. He wanted the family found, not hidden. And well, for the evidence, he had been in the house so many times before that his DNA was going to be there whether he wanted it to be or not. Besides, he would be the last person anyone suspected.
Once he had finished, he pointed the tiny beam of light towards his wrist and checked the time.
It was nearly eleven-thirty.
“Almost time.” He whispered.
He turned the light off, picked up the book and then walked back to the other side of the barn. He placed the items back in the bag and retrieved the last of the sandwiches, and filled his thermos lid up with the remainder of the coffee. He took his time while he ate, savoring each delicious bite. When he was through he placed the empty Ziploc baggie back in the bag. He did the same with the now empty thermos.
He removed the small bottle of chloroform along with the linen cloth, tossed his bag over his shoulder and left the barn.
He had no problem getting into the house. The lady always left the door to the utility room unlocked.
Inside, he could smell the lingering aroma of pot roast and potatoes. His mouth began to water and now he wished he’d skipped the sandwich. He would much rather be enjoying the juicy chunks of beef that were leftover for the husband. He could nearly taste it just thinking about it. He’d enjoyed her pot roast before and knew the savory hunks of beef would nearly melt in your mouth. Before his stomach began to rumble with greed he quickly left the kitchen.
He had already made the decision to slaughter the two boys first. For him, the baby was going to be the hardest…but also the easiest. He would leave no marks on her; he didn’t want to mutilate her tiny body. Instead he would give her the pleasure of suffocation.
He climbed the lengthy staircase little by little, one careful step at a time.
At the top of the landing, he had a choice to make. Go left towards Nicholas’ room, or go right towards Tommy’s room. Since Tommy had a room right next to the baby, he chose to do away with Nicholas first.
He turned left, walked the distance to the end of the hall and stopped in front of the closed door. He could never understand why Nicholas wanted to be so far away from the rest of his family. He was basically alone. The only other room on this side of the wing was a large bathroom.
He reached out, put his hand on the doorknob and slowly turned, pushing it inward. He could see Nicholas in the moonlight across the room. He was covered in a heavy blanket of basketballs. Hell, everything in his room had to do with basketball. He had a basketball lamp, basketball curtains, basketball sheets and covers, and basketball wallpaper.
The kid probably has on basketball pajamas too. He thought.
He opened the bottle of chloroform and soaked the cloth with the clear liquid.
He was going to enjoy the slaughter, but that didn’t mean the kid had to feel anything. There was something about the feeling of pain that disturbed him, so he would make this as painless as possible…at least for the kids.
He stood over the top of Nicholas and looked down on him for only a second, then quickly pressed the saturated cloth to his mouth. Surprisingly, he didn’t try to struggle and it wasn’t long before he was out cold.
This was going to be easier than he’d expected.
He went back and closed the bedroom door then sat down on the bed next to the oldest boy. He opened the bag and removed the large hunting knife. He pushed the boys head back, leaving his neck exposed and paused as though he were having second thoughts.
“Do it!” He heard him say. He didn’t turn around to look at him. He didn’t want to see him.
As if a powerful force had suddenly come upon him, he took the knife and made a deep slice, exposing the inside of the boys’ neck. He watched in amazement while blood rushed from the gaping wound. Spurting and spraying. It seemed to never end. It was amazing, he thought, how much blood was in such a small body. When the blood was only a trickle he went back to work. With one hand he pushed the boys head back, exposing even more of the gruesome insides. The hand that was holding the knife began sawing away at the wound until the boys head was free from its body. He held the head of Nicholas by the hair and let it dangle for a moment in his hand, and then he dropped it back onto the bed and left the room.
He walked back down the hallway then entered the next room. Tommy was almost six and definitely not into basketball. His room was decorated in Superman attire. It was basically the same as his older brother’s room. Walls, curtains, sheets, lamp; everything was Superman.
The ritual was basically the same. He used the chloroform and hunting knife on him. The only thing that he did differently was he didn’t remove his head. He let him keep it. Instead, he simply sawed the boy in half, leaving both pieces of him in the bed. It took quite a while to cut the body in half but he finally managed to do it. And just for fun, he rearranged the two body parts. Where his head should have been resting on a pillow, his waist was now there and his head was at the foot of the bed. Once he was satisfied with his work, he left the room and headed for the nursery.
The nursery was small and pink. Everything in the room was pink, even little Rosemary herself. This kill was by far the easiest. He simply rewet the cloth with chloroform, placed it over her tiny mouth and then held a pillow over her face until she stopped breathing. Except for the blood of her two brothers on her face and mouth, little Rosemary was left untouched.
He looked in on the lady. She was sleeping soundly so he left her alone for the time being. Instead, he walked back down the stairs and into the kitchen where he helped himself to a heaping mound of roast, potatoes, and carrots.
She woke suddenly, not exactly sure why. And she was scared. Was it a bad dream? She wondered, or a noise? Whatever it was, she was damp with sweat and her heart was racing.
She turned to her side and saw Richard next to her sleeping soundly. His breathing was steady as though he had been sleeping for hours and she wondered what time he had gotten home. And why he didn’t wake her.
“Richard.” She pushed at his shoulder trying to rouse him from sleep.
“Hmm,” he moaned.
“Richard, wake up!”
“What’s wrong?” He moaned.
“Wake up, dammit!” Hearing the fear in her voice he quickly sat up in bed.
“What’s wrong Karen?” he asked again.
Suddenly she felt foolish for waking him up. “I’m not sure,” she said “I think I might have heard something.”
“Like what?” He asked her, suddenly concerned.
“I’m not sure. Maybe it was nothing or just a bad dream.”
“Want me to go and look?” He offered.
“Anything for you sweetheart…” He got out of bed, slipped his feet into his slippers and put on his robe that was lying next to the bed.
“Wait!” She suddenly said.
“I want to go with you.” She slipped out from under the covers and joined him. Together they walked the length of the hallway, down the stairs and into the kitchen. She immediately saw the dinner dishes in the sink and before she could ask he said, “The roast was delicious sweetheart.”
“Thanks, I didn’t know how good it would be reheated.”
“It was delicious.”
“What time did you get home anyway?” She asked.
“Just a couple of hours ago, why do you ask?”
“How come you didn’t wake me up?”
“I thought about it,” he said “but you were sleeping too soundly and I didn’t want to disturb you.”
“Oh.” She said.
After a few minutes of silence he decided to change the subject. “Guess there’s no monsters in the kitchen.” He teased her.
“Yeah, guess not.”
“Are you alright?” He could hear the strain in her voice.
“Yeah, I guess I had a bad dream is all. Let’s go back to bed.”
Once they were back upstairs they walked to their bedroom. Still feeling uneasy she stopped suddenly.
“Now what…?” He asked her.
“Nothing, I just want to check on the kids. Go on back to bed and I’ll be right back.”
Richard took off his robe, let it drop to the floor and then climbed back into bed. He had just gotten under the covers when an ear piercing scream shattered the silence. He jumped from the bed and instead of grabbing his robe, he reached for his jeans he’d had on earlier, put them on and raced from the bedroom down the hallway.
He ran into Nicholas’ room and saw Karen crumpled on the floor holding the boys head in her hand, screaming and sobbing.
“Oh my God!” He screamed.
He rushed to her side, removed Nicholas’ head from her grasp and held her tightly against his bare chest.
“It’s alright.” He felt stupid saying the words. He looked at the severed head lying on the floor and knew it was never going to be alright again.
“Tommy… Oh my God…Tommy!” She screamed.
She pushed away from Richard and raced down the hallway to Tommy’s room.
Richard was close behind her.
Inside the room, she only stared in shock at the two pieces of her youngest son. Richard took her by the shoulders and turned her away from the gore and held her close.
“I need to call an ambulance.” She gasped.
“There’s no need for that.” Richard said.
The tone of his voice was different she noticed and pushed away from him. She looked into his eyes and saw the disturbing image.
“Oh my God.” She muttered.
She watched in horror as Richard reached behind him and pulled a large hunting knife from the back of his jeans. Her legs were numb and she was unable to move. She could see that the blade was smeared with blood. Her mouth gaped open and she covered the opening with her hand. Tears streamed down her face. She willed herself to flee past Richard and from the room, but her legs no longer worked. She could only stand there and watch while Richard approached her wielding the bloody knife.
As quick as lightning, Richard slashed her throat and watched her fall to the floor.
“Well done son.”
Richard heard him as though the words were screamed at him. He knew he would have to look at him eventually so in a trancelike state he turned around.
He was dressed in a pleasant suit and jacket, black in color. The white shirt underneath the jacket was crisp and clean. His hair, along with his shoes was shiny black. Basically, he looked the same as he did when they buried him.
Suddenly realizing what he had done, Richard reached behind him and pulled the gun from his jeans.
“Go back to hell dad!” He murmured.
He then turned the gun on himself and pulled the trigger.
THREE YEARS LATER
In a park like setting, nestled high atop a private ridge overlooking the Atlantic Ocean sat a sprawling three hundred acre facility. Polished palm trees were in abundance along with tropical lush gardens. To some, the place seemed to be a monument of beauty, to others it was as close to hell as they wanted to be.
For what would be the last time, Kaycee Beaumont sat in the black leather chair across from Dr. Hopkins’ in his plush office. She stood five-feet-four inches tall. Her straight blonde hair hung halfway down her back and although they had lost some of their sparkle, her eyes were a penetrating blue. Sitting quietly she continued to move her crossed legs back and forth, back and forth, up and down, up and down.
“You seem to be distracted Kaycee.” He finally said.
“I guess I’m just a little nervous is all.” She couldn’t help but look around the office for what she knew would be the last time.
The room was cozy. The carpet was a plush color of forest green. On the walls hung several diplomas and awards, along with a few large pieces of artwork. In a corner of one side of the room a large tropical plant of some sort took up space, while the other occupied a mahogany desk, numerous filing cabinets and a black leather sofa.
“And…what are you nervous about Kaycee?”
“Leaving I guess.” She couldn’t help but look up at him. He was extremely handsome, in his own sort of way. His hair was the color of chestnut, his eyes matched. He was rather young for a psychiatrist she decided.
“You want to talk about it?” He invited.
“What’s there to talk about that we haven’t already discussed before?” She watched him while he penciled in her remarks in his notebook. And today, it was beginning to annoy her.
“Do you always have to write what I say in that damn notebook of yours?” She barked.
Dr. Hopkins, somewhat shocked at her sudden outburst, rubbed his hands through his graying hair and then casually continued his session.
“You seem agitated for some reason today Kaycee.”
“Like I said, I’m just nervous about leaving.”
“It’s going to be a brand new life for you Kaycee. Are you sure you’re ready to leave?”
“Positive,” she answered. “Look I now know that what happened to Todd and the kids was not my fault. I have finally accepted their deaths and now I am moving on. Isn’t that you want to hear Doctor?” She ended sarcastically.
“What I want to hear is what you really believe Kaycee.”
“Look, I am never going to forget about what happened, Dr. Hopkins, and I will probably always blame myself for it. But it happened nearly five years ago and like you said it was a horrible accident, and I’m dealing with it. And now I am going to leave this place that I have called home for the last three years and start my life over.”
A gentle knock on the door interrupted their session.
“Excuse me Dr. Hopkins,” the young receptionist poked her head inside the door, “Kaycee’s ride is here.” She informed.
“Tell her ride to give us just five more minutes please.”
“Yes Doctor.” With that, she shut the door and was gone.
“Kaycee,” he began “I am going to write you a prescription for Valium. Take them only if you feel the need to.”
“Thank you.” Kaycee got up from the chair and walked towards the door of the plush office.
“Yes, Dr. Hopkins.”
“Remember my door is always opened for you.”
“Take care of yourself Kaycee, I mean that, and remember you have my office as well as my home phone number if you need me for any reason what so ever.”
“Don’t worry about me Dr. Hopkins, I’ll be fine.” And as quick as lightening she was out the door.
“Kaycee.” She heard the familiar voice, turned around and saw her best friend Brenda at the end of the hallway.
“Oh my God!” She ran the distance and grabbed her, giving her a full size hug.
“Are you ready to leave?” Brenda asked.
“Do pigs bathe in mud?” She answered.
“Come on,” Brenda began “get your shit and let’s get the hell out of here.”
The two of them walked back to Kaycee’s room and retrieved her belongings.
For the last time, Kaycee stared at what had been her room for the past three years, and as much as she hated being here, she was going to miss it.
Dressed in a casual pair of black jeans, and a simple white cotton shirt, she grabbed her only two suitcases and followed Brenda through the door, her blonde pony tail trailing half way down her back, followed.
“Are you hungry?” Brenda asked.
“As a matter of fact, I’m famished. I didn’t eat breakfast this morning.”
“Then what are we waiting for?”
Arm in arm, the two of them walked through the front doors, and headed towards Brenda’s silver Jaguar.
Kaycee stopped suddenly in her tracks and then turned around. She couldn’t help but stare at the ominous building behind her. It had been her home for the past three years, and she couldn’t help but feel she was really going to miss the comfort and security.
“Come on Kaycee, it’s time to go.” Brenda nudged.
And for the last time, Kaycee stared at the sanitarium before her, and bid a final farewell.
Inside the Jaguar, Brenda put the key in the ignition and turned. The engine purred as it came to life. Backing out of the parking lot, she drove the length of the tree lined street until she came to the end, then turned left.
“What’s for lunch?” Kaycee asked, interrupting the silence.
“How about the Crab Shack on the pier? Brenda invited. “I know it’s one of your favorites.”
“You read my mind.”
The Crab Shack was exactly that; a small wooden establishment which resembled nothing more than a shack. It was located on one of the many wooden piers in the area, yet it served the best seafood salads on the East coast.
By the time they had arrived, the lunch crowd was at a minimum and Brenda opted for a small table for two situated over the Atlantic.
The waiter had arrived within minutes, holding a pad of paper, ready to take their order.
It was a sunny day; warm, yet bearable. A light steady breeze circulated the salty air. Gentle waves hummed against the wooden posts of the pier, resulting in a peaceful echo. In the distance, dolphins could be seen playing graciously, jumping in and out of the water, and if you listened closely you could hear them communicating with whistles and clicking noises.
Although a few seagulls could be seen diving into the salted water in search of fish, most preferred to spend their time on the pier in search of fallen French fries, bread crumbs or anything else that may have been dropped.
Kaycee couldn’t help but notice Brenda’s quiet demeanor, but before she had a chance to say anything the waiter had returned to their table carrying a large platter filled with food. He set before them two large Cobb salads along with a bread basket and pitcher of iced tea.
“God, this looks delicious!” Kaycee remarked. After the waiter had left their table she took a generous bite.
“Mmm…” she said. “I think this is better than the last time we were here.”
The two plates of salad consisted of a generous portion of romaine lettuce tossed in dressing; with flawless rows of chopped tomato, avocado, bacon and blue cheese. In the middle of the arrangement was a lavish amount of shrimp and crabmeat sprinkled with chopped herbs.
Brenda took a bite of her own salad and then washed it down with a sip of the lemony tea.
“It is good.” She managed to say, and then brushed aside a loose strand of her auburn hair.
Other than the noises surrounding them, both Brenda and Kaycee enjoyed their lunch in mere silence.
After what seemed like hours of silence, Kaycee finally managed to take the last bite of her salad. She then set her fork down on her plate and said, “You’re awfully quiet today Brenda. Is something bothering you?”
“Of course not,” Brenda choked, “What could possibly be wrong?”
How in the hell am I going to tell her now? She wondered. It was the day she had been dreading for nearly two years.
It was the day that everyone’s life had changed; including her own.
“Come on Brenda, I’ve known you for what…ten years now? I think I can tell when something’s troubling you.” Brenda looked up from her own salad plate and into Kaycee’s eyes. They were a deep shade of exotic blue, and although they had lost some of their sparkle over the years since the accident, compared to her own, which were a dull green, they were mesmerizing.
“Jesus…” Kaycee laughed.
“What’s so funny?”
“Listen to me. I’m the one who just got out of the nut-house and here I am pulling all this psycho-babble bullshit on you.”
Brenda sighed, thankful for the brief change in conversation.
“Kaycee you weren’t in a ‘nut-house’ so to speak, you were in a private facility—by your own choice I might add—grieving for your family.” Brenda was thankful for the brief change of conversation.
“For three years?” Kaycee cried out. She slapped her hands on the table, and then suddenly realizing her own hasty outburst, quickly turned to see if anyone else had noticed. The few lunch guests that were left were silently eating their own plates of food unaware of the tension around them.
“Everybody grieves in their own way Kaycee,” Brenda began, “and besides, you could have left that place anytime you wanted to. Nobody was keeping you their by force.” Looking at Kaycee, she could see the tears beginning to pool in her eyes.
Hear we go.
“Listen to me Kaycee,” she reached across the table taking her hands to comfort her, not caring if anyone else noticed. “You’ve been through more in the last few years than anyone should have to go through in a lifetime. My God Kaycee, you lost your business and two weeks later Todd and the kids died in a terrible accident. It wasn’t your fault, and you can’t keep blaming yourself for something you had no control over. You did the right thing by admitting yourself into Whispering Pines. And if you ask me you received the therapy you needed to be able to get past this tragedy and continue with your own life. I’m sorry to say it Kaycee, but I think if you hadn’t gone to that place you yourself would have also been a tragedy.”
“You sound like Dr. Hopkins.” Kaycee muttered.
“So…is that a good thing or a bad thing?”
“It’s definitely a good thing,” Kaycee began, “Dr. Hopkins helped me tremendously and I’ll always be grateful to him. And as always, you’re right. He probably did save my own life.” When Kaycee looked up she could see the curve beginning to form on Brenda’s mouth.
“Come on, this is supposed to be a new beginning for me, not a therapy session.” Brenda could hear the enthusiasm bubbling in her voice.
“You’re absolutely right, and I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to bring up Todd and the kids.”
“It’s okay Brenda. Really…it is, actually I’m glad we had this little talk.”
“I am too.” Brenda answered.
Brenda removed the check from the table and scooted her chair out. Kaycee followed.
“It’s starting to get hot out here, how about we go back to my place and spend the rest of the day together. We could hang out on the beach, go swimming, and later tonight we could throw some steaks on the grill, some corn on the cob. Plus Jimmy will be by later tonight and I know he would love to see you. Hell, you could just spend the night. We’ll make a slumber party out of it.” Kaycee could hear the nervousness in her voice.
“Thanks for the invite, but I really think I need to go back to my own house today Brenda.”
The words struck her like a bullet slamming into her backside and she stopped dead in her tracks. Her heart immediately began racing and for a minute she thought she could hear its own drumming, banging loud in her ears. She knew she was going to have to tell her today, she wouldn’t be able to keep it from her any longer. She only wished it didn’t have to be right here, right now.
Slowly she turned around.
Kaycee could see the seriousness in her face.
“What’s wrong Brenda?”
“I don’t know how to tell you…”
“Tell me what dammit!” Kaycee interrupted
“I’m sorry Kaycee, but you don’t have a home anymore.” She regretted the words the moment she said them.