Sep. 14, 2017
“Ah,” he sighed obnoxiously after a deep drink, silently hating himself for doing the blissful things he had seen others do in public, but at least he was in the privacy of his own home. After both excursions he had woken up feeling like a new person. It was as if a dark, heavy veil had been lifted from his life. The sun shone brighter, the birds sang clearer, and the air was crisper. Everything about the day screamed that he should be happy to be alive, and for the first time in his life he was. Joe sipped his scotch and danced about the apartment, cleaning up the random debris that had collected through years of neglect. By the time the sun was setting on this beautiful Sunday afternoon the apartment was spotless and new. He stood in the corner and marveled at the beauty of it all and started to picture placement for various pieces of furniture that he had never possessed the desire to own. A television, or a real couch perhaps on that wall over by the window, and a dining table next to this counter top here. He laughed at the thought but quickly reminded himself that the source of his happiness would likely cause him to need to leave suddenly and this wanton waste of money would be fruitless and silly, but still he loved the thought of it.
The week dredged on and the news waned about the mysterious killings in his neighborhood and Joe began to bore of his life once again. He woke up, drank coffee, went to work, came home, watched the street, drank, and went to bed. Each day less exciting than the last, but at least the hype of a possible serial killer on the local news sites kept him entertained slightly. Since both sets of bodies were found on steps a few blocks away from each other many people had tied them together, and Joe loved them for that. However, the mass public saw this as a pathetic attempt to create a connection that wasn’t there and dismissed them as typical city violence. As the story passed away slowly Joe began to itch to go out on the town again. When friday rolled around he broke down and pulled out his flask. He had moved it to the fridge Sunday evening so that it stayed fresh and he drank deeply as his hands shook with frustration. The irony bouquet pleasured his nostrils as his gulped down the thick liquid, letting the memories of that evening wash over him as if a flood had just broken through a dam. Joe woke up on Saturday like a new man. The sun was brighter again, the birds sang clearer again, and the air was crisper again. And so Joe was able to push his happiness for another week before another Friday hit and he slumped down onto his futon filled with rage.
“Keep up the great work!” His boss had told I’m that day, as if he hadn’t been doing great work before he started killing people. He resented the fact that his work potential had changed at all based on his mood and his previous feeling of hatred for that incompetent buffoon overtook him. He sat there, on his futon in the dark, stewing over the week. All of the extra work he had done, all of the extra hours he had put in while he whistled through the day and then receiving a bland, useless compliment at the end of the week as a measure of fake appreciation, it was all so humdrum and pointless. He loathed the idea of accepting this horrible satire that was his life and so he plotted. A third murder close to his home would launch an investigation, right? That’s what all the shows said, patterns always came in threes. Yes, he needed to leave if he was going to do this, commit his act somewhere far away so that it could not be tied back to him. He checked his watch, it was still early in the evening, this could be done quickly.
“OK, lets do it,” he told himself as he grabbed his flask from the drying rack next to the sink and filled it with scotch. Joe quickly changed into some fresh clothes, stuffed the flask into his jacket pocket, and locked up the apartment. He hailed a taxi downstairs and demanded to be brought to the airport. When he arrived he threw the cash at the driver, barely counting out a tip and dashed out of the car for the ticket counters. The lady at Delta was friendly enough, she smiled and acted as if she was in love with selling people tickets to better places. She needed to be destroyed, but this was not the place for that. He told himself over and over as he gritted his teeth through the conversation that she wasn’t the one, she was not the one to fix him.
“Where to?” she finally asked, satisfied with whatever ridiculous smalltalk she had attempted previously.
“Vermont.” Joe demanded, not sure exactly where yet but just needing to be somewhere away.
“OK,” she hit a few keys on her keyboard and squinted at the screen. The attendant rubbed her chin a little and cocked her head as she scrolled through the page. Her mouse made an irritating clicking sound as she scanned through the results. “I can get you to Burlington by the morning, the flight leaves in an hour and a half. What great timing!”
“Sure,” Joe said, losing interest in the lady as he watched various passengers drift around the airport consumed by their cell phones. The lady collected his ID and credit card and printed him a ticket. When she asked if he’d be checking any backs he claimed he was on a business trip and would be back in the morning, she upgraded him to a round trip for the following day and he was off. As he walked towards security he fumbled around in his pockets for his headphones, hoping to drown out the idiocy of the people around him arguing about where their gates were and whether or not they would miss their flight. Pointless, every bit of it, and more pointless with every passing second. By the time he reached his gate he was panting heavily and he snuck a quick drink out of his flask. He was surprised they had let him through security with it but things had become more lax since the 9-11 hype had worn off, just like his news articles.
Sip after sip Joe drank as he sat at his gate, watching the passengers move to and fro when he caught a glimpse of a woman at the help counter near the gate arguing with the attendants there.
“Listen, I don’t care what my ticket says, I know I picked a window seat online, I know I did!” she scolded them, assuring them that whatever issue she had concocted with her incompetence on a simple website was their fault. “I don’t care what you need to do, but this needs to be fixed.” She slammed her phone down on the counter causing a few of the passengers waiting in the terminal to turn to look at her momentarily then go back to their pathetic texts. Joe narrowed his eyes and watched as she switched her balance from foot to foot in agitation and flicked her blond hair as the attendant looked for a window seat on the computer.
“I’ll switch with her,” he said, rising form his seat and walking to the counter. “I don’t really care where I sit.” The attendant looked at him, puzzled by his generosity at first then relieved.
“Oh thank you sir, are you sure?”
“Absolutely!” Joe flashed a fake smile at the woman and extended his hand. “Bill LeFleur,” he said, trying to seem friendly.
“Daisy McKenna,” she said, seeming a little embarrassed as she shook his hand then quickly pocketed her phone. Joe handed the lady his ticket and winked at her, hoping she wouldn’t out him for the name change. She glanced at the ticket, then back at the man, catching his wink and continued with the process a little shaken.
“Thanks, sir” she said as she handed him his new middle-seat and Daisy her new window-seat before turning away and ignoring the two at the counter.
“Well, have a safe flight,” Joe said and turned to sit back down.
“Thanks, that was really nice of you,” Daisy responded, following him to his seat. “I really appreciate it.”
“Not a problem.”
“Really, though, I’m so embarrassed by the way I acted, I must seem so high-maintenance. Let me buy you a drink on the plane at least, what’s your new seat?” She tried to steal a glance at his ticket but he turned it away from her.
“Ok, Bill in 28B. I owe you one.” She flashed a smile at him and walked off to find her own seat in the crowded waiting room. Joe smiled a little, staring down at his ticket and realizing that he had just began his first real hunt.