15. MY LIFE AS A MURDERER

The room felt colder than ever. A room where it could fit more than a hundred people, now seemed like a telephone booth and as the time was passing, its walls were getting closer and closer. It was the third time that I had to rush myself outside for fresh air. Three whole months with endless hours spent on that room, begging for the final day to come. And when that day finally came, I wasn’t ready for it. In less than an hour I would hear what others decided for my brother’s murderer. I had the chance. I had every chance to do whatever I wanted with that man. My anger, my rage, my emotions did not prevail. I am a human of reason and justice.

The third bell in the courtroom inviting us in was a sound I will never forget. A sense of vibration to my ears and a chill to my whole body. I felt weak. My face was pale and cold sweat was running all over my face. This is it…

Everyone was attending on that big day. Everyone who was still alive that is. I was sitting as far away from Ian and Jake as I could. I’ve noticed Jake talking with Ian a couple of times, even laughing like old friends hanging in a bar. Up to this day I’ve never asked Jake once about his private talks with Ian. Not once. I saw Jane standing next to the exit with an attractive young man holding her hand. She was wearing big, black sunglasses avoiding any eye contact with anyone.

The judge entered the room. He started reading a paragraph about laws and all kind of boring stuff, that my mind wasn’t at the right place to remember or pay attention, until my left eye got a glimpse of one of the jury people standing up. That was it. The final verdict.

I remembered a few days before, when Jake called me and asked me to testify before the Judge. Without any explanations I denied.

“Are you sure?” Jake asked me with a kind voice that I felt like crying over the phone.

“I am sure. My final answer is no.” I replied. Jake did not insist which was surprising for me. He was starting to understand what was going on inside my head. I have to admit that even I could not comprehend everything that was being going on in my head since the day Ian appeared on my doorstep.

The old man standing in front of the jury was talking. My ears were buzzing, I could hardly hear anything although the room was filled with silence. I felt the cold sweat again and my heart pounding. I could catch the word GUILTY, GUILTY, GUILTY quite a few times including the name of each victim. I turned my head and looked at the door. Jane was gone. Perhaps after hearing the words ‘guilty of murder’ more than three times, was enough for her to leave in peace. But not for me. Not yet.

“… For the death of Lavinia Kull, the accused Ian hurts is found GUILTY…”

I looked at Ian and he was looking at me. Without realizing it, the whole time of the verdict Ian had turned his head and was looking at… me. I was shocked. I felt the need to sit down, but I couldn’t show any sign of weakness. Not now, not at the end. My ears kept buzzing and I could hardly hear anything when suddenly I saw Ian’s head turning to the jury in surprise. I automatically turned my head without knowing what was going on. Everyone in the courtroom started shouting and yelling.

What the hell is going on…

My eyes looked for Jake, but he wasn’t next to Ian who was now sitted, staring at the floor. I found Jake talking to the Judge and then everyone rushing outside the room, talking about something unbelievable happening.

Jake gave me a nod to meet him at our usual spot outside the toilets. I was trying to listen to other people’s conversations about what was going on. What was the Jury said that made everyone so upset, that made Ian react, and the Judge to announce a 10 minute break?

“Are you okay?” Jake asked me while giving me a hug. I found it a comforting one, so I hugged him back and smiled awkwardly.

“A bit dizzy but okay. What happened? Why the break?”

“What do you mean what happened?”

“Why are we outside, why is everyone so upset?”

“Helen, did you hear the verdict?”

“Hmm… yes.”

“Did you hear the last sentence of the verdict?”

“I have to admit that my head is all over the place, I might even have a fever…” I chuckled to the idiot joke I made, but seeing Jake’s face so serious and worried, I knew that something was wrong. Something wrong about Ian… about me…

“They were announcing the deaths and saying he’s guilty and then… what is the punishment, how many years?” I replied.

“We never got to that.” Jake took a step near me as if he were ready to catch in case I faint or something.

“All right…” I was ready for whatever he was about to say. At least that’s what I thought.

“Ian was found guilty of all deaths except from one. Your brother’s.”
As if this sentence weren’t harsh enough Jake continued, repeating the words of the jury,

“For the death of Jonathan Martinez, Ian Hurts is found INNOCENT.”

I started laughing hysterically, I couldn’t stop until I fainted.

… …

I woke up the next day in a hospital. Severe dehydration and exhaustion. They kept asking Jake all these questions, like what happened to her, why was she in that condition. They couldn’t believe that a person in the right mind would go through all these, physically and mentally voluntarily. Of course, Jake could not tell the real reason why I have been starving myself for years, depriving my body from hydration and rest. But my enemy was restless, I couldn’t give in to the temptations of real life. However, the real reaction, the one that made Jake actually burst into tears for what have I become was the one that came a few hours after I woke up and Jake and the doctor entered my room.

Of course, I cannot remember anything of that day or any of the following days to be honest, but this is how Jake described it to me a few months later, when we were sitting in our beautiful garden in our new home in Italy,

“The ambulance came, and I requested from a doctor, a good friend of mine to keep you safe until I was done with the trial and come to you. After the verdict of life imprisonment without parole, I ran to the hospital and waited there until the very next morning when you woke up. I entered the room with the doctor, and we were about to tell what happened, what condition you were at and that you had to stay for two more days in the hospital. But as I entered the room, you looked at me into my eyes and… I looked at yours, and then you left a tear run down your face, and…” Jake stopped his narration as we both heard his voice tremble. Without looking at him, I touched his arm.

“… I saw your mouth moving without making any sound. I think you said: I’m sorry. And then you started screaming so hard that you finally collapsed on the floor with seizures. Three men had to restrain you and they wouldn’t let me touch you or come next to you… you know… to help you. They didn’t allow visitation for 4 days, and then… I remember, ironically, the doctor suggested that we may visit a Psychiatric Clinic for mental support, and he passed me a flyer of Faber Clinic, which of course I threw immediately in the garbage.”

I gave him a kiss and then asked him to continue.

“I took you at my home and you didn’t talk for like a week or so. You were barely eating, and I saw you crying a couple of times. I never tried to talk to you or put pressure on you, cause I knew that you would come to me when you were ready. Which you did one Sunday afternoon. I remember hearing the door to your room opening and I think my heart skipped a beat… not from happiness… I think it was mostly fear of what was about to happen. But then you came, and you sat next to me… and…” he smiled… “you placed your head on my shoulder and you said: I’m hungry.”

I laughed.

“And then after 9 months here we are sitting in our new home, a new country, a new life and again the past is knocking on our door.”

Two letters were laying on the table next to our wine glasses both addressed to me. The one was from a guy named Jerry Orland, one of the members of the jury as Jake informed me and the other one was from Ian Hurts. After finishing two bottles of red wine I opened Jerry’s letter:

Dear Ms. Martinez,

I would like to express my sincere apology for the verdict on that horrifying day. I was informed about your situation and everything and I would like to admit that I was one of the members of the jury that voted for the innocence of Ian Hurts for the death of your little brother. A few days later Ian Hurts asked me to visit him. He wasn’t allowed visitation for 7 months until your partner Jake informed me that I was now able to visit Ian Hurts and finally listen to what he wanted to tell me. There is no point of me getting into details. I only want to let you know that he spoke with all members of the jury, at least those who voted for his innocence, and we officially changed the verdict to guilty of all charges. I send you an official copy of the verdict. I hope you now find the peace you were looking for. My deepest condolences for your brother’s loss.

Sincerely,

Jerry Orland.

I kept staring at the piece of paper for another 10 minutes. Jake wasn’t talking. He was patiently waiting. Of course, he knew all about it. I opened the second letter and with a first glance I saw how short the letter was. So, I started reading,

I made it right this time.

Thank you.

I’m sorry.

Ian.

I rumpled both letters and threw them in the trashcan. I turned to Jake – the man who believed in me and saw right through me –

I hugged him, and I repeated the same last words that Ian ever said to me,

“Thank you.

I’m sorry.”

14. CHAPTER OF REVELATION

The doorbell rang on a Saturday afternoon. I was sitting on my sofa watching… or rather staring at the tv. When I heard the sound, I turned my head surprisingly and stood there for a few seconds. I rushed myself into the kitchen and then one minute later I was standing in front of the door. It was the first and probably the last time that I hadn’t looked at the peephole to check who was ringing the bell. Somehow, I was certain that it was him. I opened the door and there he was, standing, holding a red wine on one hand and his briefcase on the other.

“Welcome,” I said smiling.

He walked in the living room and looked around.

“Beautiful apartment.”

“Thank you very much. Take a seat and I’ll be right back. Should I open the wine?” I asked.

“Please, allow me,” he said and followed me in the kitchen. I allowed him to follow me. I was calm and casual, like all I wanted was to talk, like all I needed was his help.

He opened the bottle and poured the wine to the two glasses I had placed earlier on the table.

“Were you expecting someone?” he asked.

“Yes, you,” I answered with a smile. He smiled back but didn’t answer.

“Which one?” he asked pointed at the glasses.

“You choose,” I exclaimed calmly.

“A toast!” he said raising his glassing. “To an unforgettable night!”

I smiled with that statement. “You can count on that!” I replied.

I brought the glass near my lips but didn’t take a sip. I was watching him carefully taking a big sip of the red wine he brought, and my heart was pounding harder than ever. I followed him back to the living room and then excused myself to use the toilet.

I was gone for exactly 6 minutes. I locked myself into the bathroom and sat on the floor. It was the longest 6 minutes of my life. I was shaking all over, I could hardly breath. I had to pull myself together to go back inside. At that point I had to check if everything was going according to plan. I unlocked the door and shouted his name. Once, twice… no answer. I walked quickly into the living room, where I saw Ian lying on the coach with eyes closed. The next steps had to be fast and careful. I was surprised that everything happened so fast and so easily, but you know? Sometimes, after all you’ve been through… when you have the perfect plan going on in your head for more than 20 years, as Paulo Coelho once said, “when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

I gave him a shot of sedative, so he can stay asleep for a bit longer. I pushed his body on the floor and handcuffed both hands on the radiator. I took off his shoes and tied up his legs with a black electrical tape – knees to feet. I washed the two glasses in the sink, both with strong sedative powder in and out. Then I took a chair and sat in a safe distance opposite to him. I took a new glass of wine and… waited.

It took him thirty-fucking minutes to wake up. If I knew that for 6’2 feet guy, it would take that long, I wouldn’t worry that much for the effects of the sedative.

“Wakey, wakey little Ian,” I said and raised my glass. “…Here’s to an unforgettable night!” I repeated his phrase and I laughed so hard that a little portion of wine came out of my noise. But it was totally worth it.

“What the fuck?” Ian looked around him. He tried to move legs and hands but in vain.

“Who the fuck are you? What do you want?”

“What do I want? Oh, poor Dr. Hurts. The night is long. If I tell you what I want from the beginning, it would spoil all the fun, wouldn’t it?”

“Who are you?”

“I’m Helen Martinez. I told you that. I wouldn’t lie to you.”

He looked at me waiting for me to explain. He was a psychiatrist after all, he knew how to react in different situations, and he was certainly aware of how I felt.

“You know…” he began to say. I rolled my eyes. I didn’t expect him to be the one to talk first.

“I believed what you told me the other day and I came here today to kill you.”

“To kill me? I though you came here to help me.”

“You know everything, right? About me?”

“Yes.” I replied with confidence.

“May I ask how?”

I stood up and looked at him with pity. I was finally in charge. This question of his was just a recognition of his defeat. I left the room for a few minutes and I came back holding a big carton box full of notebooks. I took out the first one and threw it in front of him. On the cover the name JONATHAN MARTINEZ was written with big red letters.

He looked at me surprisingly, but I don’t think he remembered. Then I took the second one: Matthew Brown. Still no reaction. Only when I took Mia’s file, I saw it in his eyes.

“Fuck,” he whispered and lowered his head. He closed his eyes and then said,

“What are you going to do now?”

“I am not going to do anything. But you my friend are going to do a lot. As I said before, the night is long. You are going to narrate every single murder you committed, with every little, horrible detail. I just want the act, not the why. There is no why, when it comes to you after all. You’re a sociopath after all.  Just a simple description of what happened, to what you did to all those people. And then I’m done.

“You’re done? You’re going to let me go, you mean?” he asked innocently. I smiled and pressed on, on my recorder. The night was young…

I gave him a nod and he began…

“My name is Ian Hurts, and this is how I killed Jonathan Martinez… …”

… … …

It was almost dawn when I heard the doorbell once more. Ian was asleep and opened his eyes to the sound of the door. I was wide awake of course. Jake was at the door.

“Why did you text me in the middle of the night, what…?” Jake stopped and rolled his eyes. “What the fuck…” he screamed and pulled me in the kitchen.

“What have you done? Have you completely lost your mind?”

“He is ready, you can take him.”

“What do you mean?”
“Call the police. This is his statement with all the murderers he committed. My work is done. Now it’s your turn, Jake. As we discussed.” I gave him the recorder and my eyes got wet. I don’t if it was the long night or the “I’m done” part.

“Why didn’t you kill him?”

“Because I’m not a murderer, Jake. I’m not him. We live on this planet, on this time and age. There are laws and there is justice, and they should deal with him.”

“I… I don’t get you sometimes.”

“This is why we can’t be together, my sweet love.”

He gave me a kiss, took the recorder – the copied one – and called the police.

Ian’s trials were about to begin, until up to the day that the jury announced his fate. Of course, I was there to listen…

What do you think this man’s fate must be?   

13. ONE MORE

Stephen King once wrote: “Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win.”

I distinctly remember that rainy Monday and everything that happened on that day a few weeks ago. It was the first time that I hadn’t felt the need to go to Ian’s hearing. I was a bit under the weather, but that was not the only reason. It was as if something inside me was ordering me to stay at home that day. However, it was me we are talking about, so of course I went… And it was that exact decision that made me witness the death of attorney Tyler Holland.

… …

“Dr. Hurts please answer the question,” shouted Tyler Holland.

“Could you repeat your question Mr. Holland?” answered Ian calmly.

“No matter the verdict of the jury, do you regret the killings? Any of the killings?”

Ian looked at him in the eyes.

“Come closer,” he said.

Tyler looked at the judge who waived him negatively. He smiled with confident and walked closer to Ian, making eye contact. The atmosphere in the room was tense. I was sitting at the edge of my seat to hear what Ian would say. What he would do.

“I do not regret any of the things I did, and I am about to do…” said Ian. Tyler looked at him confused.

Everyone in the room started talking loudly and the judge couldn’t reinstate the order. I hid my recorder in my person and stood up. I was in desperate need of air, I could no longer stay inside that room, when suddenly I heard a voice calling my name.

“Helen? Where are you going? It is about to get so much better.”

Ian’s voice entered my ears like an annoying bee. I didn’t turn, I didn’t answer. I kept walking until I entered the toilet. I was alone. I washed my face three times, and I left the cold water running. It always felt so soothing to just hear the sound of the water running. It was time for me to go home. I was pushing myself beyond my limits and for what. Only thirty minutes left, and the hearing would be over. There was no point for me to stay any longer, what could happen in those 30 minutes?

I exited the toilets and headed towards the stairs. Two policemen rushed their way, next to me almost hitting my shoulder. I think I murmured something bad about them, but I can’t really recall at that point. My memory is so vague when it comes to such incidents… I mean comparing with what I was about to experience a few minutes later.

I reached the end of the staircase, and I could finally see the exit, when I noticed a bunch of policemen running up the stairs. I had to stay still in the corner to make way for them to pass, and then I heard it.

“That psycho Ian, come quickly.”

Did I hear correctly? Did the policeman say Ian?

I gathered my strength and climbed up the stairs back to the courtroom. Everyone inside the room was coming my way. A few cops were leading them to the nearest exit and keeping them calm so as to avoid the panic.

What the hell was going on?

I forced myself through the crowd and entered the courtroom. Policemen, paramedics were standing outside the little door behind jury’s stand.

“Miss? You are not supposed to be here. Please leave,” yelled a man who was coming towards me.

“What happened?” My voice was trembling. I made the question, but I wasn’t sure I could hear the answer.

“Please leave,” the man said pushing me out of the room.

I looked around me searching for the one person who I knew that could help me.

“Jake?” I screamed.

Ian’s lawyer, Jake York was waiting outside of the toilets, watching the crowd evacuating the building. He couldn’t hear me with all this noise. I ran towards him, pushing a few people on my way.

“Jake?”

“What the hell are you still doing here? I thought you left.”

“What is going on? What happened?”

“I thought you left.”
“I was about to and then… Jake? Are you okay?”

“He killed him, Helen.”

“Who did? Ian? Who did he kill?”

“Tyler.”

It was at that moment that I felt my heart stop, my lungs shrinking, and my ears buzzing. My throat was so dry I couldn’t shape the words.

“Helen?” Jake asked touching my shoulder. His touch made my blood run again through my body.

“What did…? How did he…? Umm…”

“Let’s go outside, shall we?”

Jake offered to walk with me to the nearby café. I sat next to him and it felt like the old days. After our divorce, Jake rarely kept any contact with me. I never blamed him for that. My obsession with Ian was like a third person in our relationship. It was like a ghost standing above me, following me anywhere I go, to anything I do. But we were in love that was for sure, and we respected each other. That was why Jake made the impossible, possible. He managed to become the devil’s advocate, only to make sure that this bastard would end behind bars if not worse.

“The judge ordered a 15-minute break after you left. I excused myself to go to the toilet and Tyler went with Ian. From what I’ve heard, Ian requested to speak to him alone. Tyler agreed for the guards to leave the room. It only took a minute. Ian chocked him with the chain on his handcuffs. By the time the guards smashed the door, Tyler had been already dead.”

“What do you men smash the door?”

“Ian had put a metal bookcase against it, blocking the entrance for just enough time as it needed for Tyler to stop breathing.”

“What about the cameras? What about…?” Jake hugged me. I was furious but exhausted. I could not wait any longer. I started crying. I could feel my fever rising.

“Calm down,” Jake said.

“Prison is not for him. He has to…”

“I know…” Jake looked at me. “I know!” he repeated and for the first time I realized he finally understood. He was no longer doing me any favors. He knew that Ian had to die.

12. MY TURN

I entered the Faber Psychiatric Clinic for the first time in my life, on a Sunday summer morning, as a visitor and not as a patient. It was the kind of excitement that a little kid feels on the first day of school. Excitement and terror. For more than 30 years I’ve been looking for my brother’s murderer. Ian’s first victim; Jonathan Martinez. My name? Helen Martinez. I was only 10 years old when I saw a little kid called Ian chocking my little brother to death. Of course, no one believed me back then. My parents locked me up in Faber Clinic – mental breakdown they said – but what I keep saying is that they had just found the opportunity to get rid of the last offspring of theirs so they can live the happy life that my brother and I deprived them of.

Following a man’s steps without knowing even his face was a struggle for me. I couldn’t reveal myself, unless I was 100% sure that I could take him. I was there that night he murdered Lavinia’s rapist. I was at next room of the motel, the day he murdered Lavinia. I stayed three days waiting for him to leave, feeling every emotion he could feel. I saw him walking past me, I saw him at the street. Someday… I was thinking to myself.

And that day had finally arrived.

“Good morning, I have an appointment with Dr. Hurts. My name is Helen Martinez.”

The receptionist looked at me. She put the gossip-magazine aside and checked the computer screen. She kept chewing her gum in an annoyed and disrespectful way.

“Sign here, and here,” she said indifferently.

Before I finished all my paperwork, I saw the famous Ian Hurts walking down the stairs. My heart stopped only for a moment, but then I managed to hold it together. Well… if I couldn’t, that would only mean that I wasn’t ready yet.

“Ms. Martinez,” called Ian from the other side of the room.

“Hello, Dr. Hurts. So glad to finally meet you.”

“Shall we?” I followed him in his office.  

After Lavinia’s death, Ian’s ability to act… normal was significantly compromised. He had this weird sense that someone was following him or watching him. He would often lose his words, or act as if he wasn’t in his right mind. I had the advantage and the confidence I needed and there was no better time to make my move than this vulnerable time of his.

I sat at the comfortable chair he had for his patients and looked at him like a high school girl looks at her young attractive teacher. Yes, he was handsome, yes, he was smart, attractive.

“May I call you Helen?” he asked me.

“Of course.” I replied.

“So, Helen, tell me a little bit about yourself.”

“Well, short version story is that I need help.”

“What sort of help?” asked Ian intrigued.

“Professional help.” I replied and looked directly into his eyes. It was as if I was trying to communicate both with language and with eye contact.

“Professional, as in a psychiatrist’s help?”

“Well, yes and no.”

He didn’t answer.

“I specifically need your help Dr. Hurts… and since you are a psychiatrist…”

“I see… so what is it about me that make you want to ask my help? What is it that are looking for?”

“30 years ago, my brother was murdered in cold blood. Since then, I’m looking for his murderer.”

“I hear you…” Ian sat comfortably in his chair crossing his hands. I had his attention.

“I found him.” I said waiting for his reaction.

“And what are you thinking to do?”

“Kill him.”

Ian smiled. He looked at me for a few seconds and did not speak. He made me feel uncomfortable in purpose. He thought that I would break, that I would explain what I meant. But there was nothing to explain. It was as simple as that.

“Since you have decided what you want to do, I don’t see how myself would be any of assistance to you.”

He was smart, really smart. But I was playing a game that I created, could not let him lead.

“The thing is that most people come here to seek for help. They want to kill someone, but they know it’s wrong, so they want you to help them not to do it, right?”

Ian did not reply.

“I don’t want that. I want you to help kill him.”

“How?” he asked.

“Make it easier.”

“I’m sorry Helen but perhaps you’ve misunderstood my profession. I am not a killer; I am a psychiatrist. Unless you need my expertise in that area, I cannot help you at all. In fact, I may make your life even more difficult.”

“How is that?”

“Well, you are confessing a crime here. Although a doctor, I cannot not express my concern and maybe refer you to a professional or even the police.”

“Refer me to a professional? Why? Are you unavailable?” I asked smiling.

“Clearly, there is a misunderstanding here, which otherwise I would investigate or care about. Unfortunately, I have to pass on that.”

“Ian… May I call you Ian?”

“Please.”

“I need you to understand that no matter what you do or don’t, I will kill this man.” I stood up and opened the door to leave.

“It is in my belief that people who commit crimes as such do not deserve to live. Since no one can do anything about that, it is my responsibility to perform the act of justice. I thought you of all people would understand, but I guess the last act of justice of yours was too personal… I hope you find your way back, Ian. I really do. And if you do, please do give me a call. This is my card with my phone and my home address. I will be expecting you…”

Before he managed to say a word, I had already been on my way to the parking lot. I saw him running behind me, when I quickly drove off. He stood on the stairs of the Faber Clinic flustered.

Step 1 was completed successfully.

It was not long than the very next day that my doorbell rang. I smiled. I turned off the TV and got up. I looked through the peephole and there he was. Ian Hurts standing on my doorstep. Could I ask for more? It took me a few seconds until my heart had stopped pounding and then I opened the door.

“Hello, Ian.”

“Helen!”

“I was expecting you, please come in.”

He entered the apartment as if it were an old friend of mine that hasn’t seen me in ages. He sat on the armchair, crossed his legs and through a black notebook on the coffee table. On the front cover it was written:

  1. JONATHAN MARTINEZ   

Game On Bitch.

11. LAVINIA

Terry Hayes once said, “Nobody’s ever been arrested for a murder; they have only ever been arrested for not planning it properly”.

In Ian’s case he was not arrested for any of the murderers he had committed. He was arrested for a murder he did not commit, mine. It was not luck nor incompetence of my murderer that saved me. It was me. Just me.

… …

“My name is Ian Hurts, and this is how Lavinia Kull killed herself”.

“Excuse me, Ian… killed herself? Did I hear correctly?” asked attorney Tyler Holland.

Ian nodded.

“So, you’re implying that you didn’t kill Lavinia. It was a suicide!”

Ian nodded again.

Tyler shook his head and pressed a button on the remote control of the projector they had installed that particular day. The crowd, including myself, was about to be shocked by the slide show Tyler had prepared for us. Some turned their head the other way, some covered their mouth in disgust, some left a discreet noise, unable to control their voice, and I, as always, turned my head and looked at Ian. Heartless, indifferent Ian. I remembered that night he was telling me how he did it. How he killed her.

“People shouldn’t be ungrateful Helen. She was. I gave her not one, but two chances and she wasted them all. In the end, since one must choose the side that is victorious, the side which devastates… considering the alternative, it is better to eat than to be eaten.”

Was he right? I wondered…

“… And you did the same. You were chasing me all these years. I accept my defeat, I respect your persistence. But I’m not sorry for what I’ve done. So, if you’re looking for an apology, this is not the right place.”

“Tell me about her.” I said without responding to his last comment.

“She loved me. That I know. For how long, that I do not know. I think it was before she left, before she became Head of Faber Clinic. It was then that she really loved me. After she had returned, she was this cruel, different person. I could see it, but I didn’t want to believe it. I made my mistakes and she made hers and all led to that night that I will never forget. It was…”

“Before you continue… Do you regret it?”

“Regret what?”

“Killing her?”

“No.”

“Do you miss her?”

Silence… We looked at each other and it was as if we connected in a strange level. Like we both shared the same feeling. We had both lost someone because of him. He was two different people at the same time, killer and victim. He continued:

“It was a few hours after her ridiculous attempt to kill me. She didn’t even have the guts to do it herself. You either have it in you or you don’t. By paying someone to do your job is just weakness. And I do not appreciate weakness. You didn’t pay anyone. I didn’t pay anyone.”

I felt a sense of confidence. Was Ian giving me a compliment? Was he considering me as an equal? I admit now that it was more than once that I fell for his charm. The way he looked, the way he talked, his mind, everything.

“We were in a motel. A place that I used to go and spend some time to think or plan. She was a mess, totally unattractive to me. I remember her begging for her life at some point. What a pity.”

“How did you do it?”

“Well, first we had this conversation which I must admit got into my bones, and then without second thought I did it.”

… …

“I know that you are going to kill me now,” said Lavinia tied up on the bed. She was lying naked with hands and legs tied up with a rope on each corner of the bed. A mixed combination of cold, fear, stress and shock made her tremble. She couldn’t even talk straight.

Ian did not answer. He was in the bathroom, preparing himself for the murder.

“Why do you kill people, Ian? Why? Isn’t it justice for me to kill you?”

Ian got out of the bathroom and looked at her. He was holding a big axe in his hand.

“Yes. But you couldn’t. So now it’s my turn.”

She screamed with all her strength, but no one could hear her.

He walked next to her holding the axe with both hands. The room was dark, only the streetlights were enough to give him the visibility he needed to carry out his ritual.

“I loved you.” Lavinia said using past tense. Ian stopped.

“I really did. And I hated myself for that. I literary tried to get over you. I left as far as I could. It was so painful.”

“Why did you come back?”

“Because I couldn’t live without you. But then I couldn’t live with myself. So, I decided to kill you.”

“You planned everything so perfectly. You tricked your own family, you tricked me, for what? Do you remember how strong you were? Remember what happened to you? The man who raped you?” Ian let the axe down on the floor and sat next to her. She didn’t move.

“Do you remember that night before you left? The first time I kissed you?”

“I do. I will never forget.”

“It was only for a moment. 30 seconds, and it was the best 30 seconds of my life.”

Ian’s eyes teared up. He kissed her forehead and touched her hand.

“Please, Ian. I’m begging you, please.”

Ian’s sweet face, now turned into a repulsive one. This last sentence was the wake-up call he needed. With a quick move he turned and grabbed the axe from the floor. He raised it and said:

“It’s time for a little trivia my sweet Lavinia. You are smart, you must know that. Do you know how many seconds it takes for a person to die after decapitation?”

Lavinia was screaming and crying unable to turn her head away from his face.

“30 seconds, my sweet girl. 30 fucking seconds which you will be able to see your fucking head separated from your body, if you can stay conscious that is. But at least even for a few seconds you will feel the exact amount of pain as I did.”

Ian struck down his axe directly onto her beautiful neck. The first time Lavinia’s eyes, still open, were looking directly into his eyes letting the last tears run down her face. She let a horrible groan of pain and her voice was lost forever. The second time a massive amount of blood blew on Ian’s face making him scream from indignation. He repeated three times, with the head only becoming unresponsive on the third attempt. His heart was pounding really hard. He felt like vomiting, but he didn’t. It was the first and probably the last time that he performed the act of murder without really wanted to. It felt like labor to him. He remained for more than five minutes with the axe on his hand, breathing with difficulty, staring at the woman’s dead body.

It took him 3 days to clean up the mess and feel ready to go back into the real world. The world that was waiting for him… I was waiting for him…    

10. FIRST TRY

Whenever I heard something about this persona called Lavinia, I was always under the impression that she was a smart and capable woman. Considering her past and the whole strategic plan to earn her possession as Head of the Faber Clinic, without even sweating, well, you would expect that her plan to kill Ian would be at least a masterplan. But sometimes life gives you an opponent – either a person or a situation – that you cannot compete fair and square, and you lose. In Lavinia’s case the loss was ultimate.

Saturday afternoon Lavinia and Jane – still at the hospital – engaging in one meeting after another. Lavinia was not that careful but then again, she had the doctor’s alibi. No matter how many times a patient needs you, you must be there for them.

On the other side, Ian was calmer than ever. Now, that Brad was out of the picture he had nothing to worry about. He didn’t care that Lavinia had cheated on him; he didn’t overthink about how Lavinia really felt. The fact that Brad was dead was enough for him. Even in the courtroom when attorney Tyler Holland made that inappropriate comment:

“Imagine the only person you trust, deceiving and cheating on you with such easiness.”

I remember that moment like it was yesterday. I immediately turned and looked at Ian, as everyone in the room did, he kept looking at the floor, legs crossed and just left a faint laugh. And that was all. Well, who could blame him in the end? Tyler had it coming. Oh, no. Scratch that last thought. No… Under no circumstances Ian is innocent for any of the murders.

… …

“But Lavinia, I’ve seen what he’s capable of. He is a very smart man. Don’t you think that if we just trust a random man to kill him, he will be successful? I mean… we are talking about a professional murderer.”

“Well, if we all help a bit…”

“What do you mean?”

“Jane, I didn’t want to tell you before, cause I knew you wouldn’t agree…” Jane rolled her eyes waiting for Lavinia’s next words.

“… In exactly two hours a man will come here. His name is of no importance. In exactly three hours I have a meeting in my office with Ian to talk about you and your releasing papers.” Jane covered her mouth with both hands.

“Exactly, after tonight you will no longer be part of this madness. Tomorrow morning, I will release you from this… place. But only after we successfully run the plan. Are you with me?”

“I need to hear the plan, first.”

And then Lavinia started explaining her so called masterplan leaving Jane speechless and frightened of what was about to happen to all of them in a few hours.

… …

Three hours later everyone was at their place. Lavinia, Jane, the paid murderer, and Ian. If that were a staged theatrical play, you would say that all actors performed exceptionally, however, not according to Lavinia’s playwrighting.

Ian arrived at exactly 8pm outside Lavinia’s office. He tried to open the door, but it was closed. He brought his ear near the door and to his surprise he heard Lavinia moan in pleasure. He then heard a man’s voice. Ian smiled. Who knew what was going on in his twisted mind. You can’t expect a normal behaviour from a psychopath.

He tried to break the door, and managed to do so successfully. When he entered he saw a half-naked man on top of Lavinia, both at the floor. Ian did not rush. He wasn’t holding anything – knife or gun – to kill his victim as expected. Lavinia glanced at him without reacting waiting for the plan to go as agreed. Ian met her look and then he knew. He just knew.

Jane appeared behind Ian holding a big syringe in her right hand. Ian saw her reflection on the window and immediately turned. He gave a big push to Jane, making her hit her head on the corner of a table and faint. The paid-killer turned immediately but Ian had already stabbed him with the syringe containing sedative with enough milligram to immobilize a pack of buffalos. The man fell on the floor a few seconds later unable to move. Lavinia kept staring at Ian thinking what to do next.

“You don’t seem to learn your lesson, do you?” said Ian completely calm.

Lavinia did not answer.

“Well, I tell what’s gonna happen. Don’t think of it as a warning. No, no. So tomorrow Jane will be released and you will never speak to or see her again. She will hardly remember you either way. I’ll make sure of that. And you… you my dear need to start acting like you are supposed to. All right?”

Lavinia nodded but did not answer.

“Oh, I almost forgot.”

 He took a pocket-knife and slaughtered the man until the whole white carpet on the floor turned red.

 The two of them did not speak for the rest of the night. Ian gently took Jane into his arms and returned after almost an hour in Lavinia’s office only to see that she was gone. The man was still lying in his own blood. Ian started closed the door and started cleaning the room.

… …

There is no point for me to keep it any longer. Lavinia’s death was up next…