They thank me for being their guide—2016
I have a memory. I am in the sandbox. A lizard appears. I grab the lizard. His tail detaches. The lizard runs away. I am left holding this gray lizard tail — and the lizard had been green. He tricked me. And I learned a new thing that day — that lizards can eject their tails to avoid predators. Only later did I learn that they grow back.
I live in Pain, South Dakota. It’s a kind of tourist spot in that people stop here to see what a place called Pain looks like. And we’re on the bus line. So travelers sometimes think that Pain, South Dakota would be a nice place to stop for the night — or they plan to run out of money here and start a new life. There’s a similar place in Pennsylvania. It’s called Intercourse. When my aunt was alive she went there and sent me a picture of her and my uncle standing in front of a t-shirt shop each wearing t-shirts that said “I ❤ Intercourse.” There is no t-shirt shop in Pain.
We have a population of about 300. Mostly trailers. A main street that looks like the main street in The Last Picture Show. Have you seen that flick? — great flick. Our Main Street has a place called Betsy’s, which is a diner, which is the geographical center of Pain. If you see someone going somewhere, chances are they’re going to Betsy’s — if you see someone coming from somewhere, chances are they’re coming from there.
I drink my coffee at Betsy’s when I’m not otherwise engaged.
I sit at the bar.
I read the newspaper, which is one sheet front and back, and mostly consists of livestock and other classified advertisements. A working record player, ten dollars. A red tricycle, five dollars. I try to remember if I ever had a tricycle. I think I did. I think it was yellow.
Every morning I sit at Betsy’s.
Every morning Betsy says, “Good day to you, Mr. Simple.”
And every morning I say, “Good day to you, Mrs. Langton.”
And Betsy Langton takes a cup from under the counter, flips it over, sets it in front of me, and pours me a hot cup of coffee.
“Will you be having your usual pancakes or your usual French toast, Mr. Simple?”
“I’ll be having my usual French toast, thank you, Mrs. Langton.”
“Alrighty-do,” she says, and turns around to cook them.
Betsy’s is a one-woman operation. There’s not a lot of room in this town to hire employees. It’s a hard place to get started. That’s something the end-of-the-line tourists of Pain, South Dakota don’t have figured out before they get here. But there’s a place for everyone. I even manage to find a place for some of them with me.
But I can’t take everyone. In fact I’m quite particular about who I take to my house.
I only like women.
Of those, I only like young women.
Of those, I prefer petite women — women shorter than me, and I’m five ten.
I’ll take women of any hair color, but of course my preference runs first with redheads, then blondes, then brunettes — as most men’s preference runs.
I prefer women with small breasts — in fact I won’t take anything larger than a B cup. This very particular preference has left many women standing at the bus stop on Main Street for much longer than they expected — but I can’t help it, it’s my personal preference and my business is a business of personal preference. In fact my business wouldn’t exist at all without it.
Other than that, it’s a look in the eyes — that kind of girl that thinks Pain, South Dakota is as good as Hollywood, California — a girl who gets off that bus and has hope in her eyes, who thinks that this is where she’s going to start her new life, and somehow she’s going to fit into this tiny town and get a job as a waitress at Betsy’s and rent a room with a family who has two girls and a father and mother who treat everybody right, and in this new place she’ll be able to forget everything that happened in Pittsburgh or New York or Miami or wherever the fuck she came from.
But she won’t.
But she thinks she will.
That’s the type of hope I’m looking for.
That hope is the single most important characteristic I look for in a girl. Because that hope is what I drain from her. I take her from a girl who hopes to make a life for herself in Pain, to a girl who hopes someday to escape my crate, to a girl who just hopes not to die, to a girl who hopes there is a heaven, to a girl who hopes that death comes quickly — which it won’t.
To a girl with dead eyes.
To a girl who isn’t there.
To a girl that I control.
Do you know what a psychopomp is? It’s a deity whose job is to safely escort the dead to the afterlife. They’re not like our concept of the grim reaper — who actually does the killing. The psychopomp exists in many forms in many cultures, and her job is protector, guide — that’s what I am. The girls who come to me have chosen to die in Pain. No one realistically comes to Pain, South Dakota to thrive. They come here as a last-ditch effort — they know this is the end of the line.
Otherwise they would solve their problems wherever it is they came from — or move to another big city. No. The type of person who comes to Pain, South Dakota, Population 300 is the type of person who is tired — tired of trying — and they’re looking for a place to die.
So I don’t really kill them — they kill themselves by coming here. I just carry them from Pain, South Dakota to the land of the dead. And they thank me for it.
They thank me for giving the end of their lives meaning.
They thank me for being their guide.
They thank me for showing them what death is.
And they thank me for killing them — finally — for taking their last breath.
It’s sort of like a father-baby arrangement. Baby daughter, held in the arms of the father. I can rock you. I can drop you. I hold your body in complete control and you have no choice but to trust me. And I rock you, my baby, gently, to sleep.
I’m sure you’ll have trouble with my metaphors. You’ll think them inaccurate. You’ll think them insensitive. You’ll think I’ve deluded myself and you’ll feed yourself all that Boar’s Head-quality bullshit on a sandwich made of flies.
But here’s the thing.
People don’t actually fear death.
What they fear is being alone — dying alone.
With me, no one dies alone!
Maybe you get lost in the woods. Maybe a rattlesnake bites you. Maybe a cougar gets ya — maybe a bear. Or maybe you break your leg and you just fucking starve to death. Three days, no water, and you’re stuck screaming in the middle of nowhere hoping someone will come, hoping some stranger will save you or at least hold your hand when you pass away.
That’s not the kind of death we want — eaten by ants.
Now imagine you’re in the hospital with all your family around you. You look at all of them receding through a tunnel and you know that you mattered. Someone showed up for the big event.
Well with me you get something in between. You’re outside in nature — at gunpoint of course — and you have me (who’s become a friend) there with you squeezing the last breath out of your tiny little girl neck, crushing your petite larynx and — if you’re lucky — fracturing the precious hyoid bone which makes a distinct snap that you’ll hear clearly because that bone breaks before you die. But I’ll be there with you, you see! — and that’s what makes all the difference. You’ll have a psychopomp sitting on your shoulder, with you all the way through the curve from birth to death, I like to think — as you’re never truly born until you wake up in my chair, naked, restrained, with a television and corrugated walls and a chest neatly organized with every surgical, dental, mechanical, and gynecological tool known to the human race. On the other wall is a cabinet I keep closed while you’re alive — stuff I salvaged from an old slaughterhouse in Pain.
Yep, just another day in Pain, South Dakota — Betsy making my usual French toast and me drinking my coffee, black. I’m new enough to Pain to still be a novelty (I’ve been here four years) but long enough to be a regular. Known quantity. No one notices me too little..no one notices me too much. No one asks me too many questions — like where I got my money. Pain is the kind of place where even in this age people have kept a measure of privacy. Politeness. You leave a person to their business.
And every morning, at eight o’clock sharp, I show up at Betsy’s. Because every morning, at eight seventeen, the bus comes rambling through Pain, stops on Main Street, and the creaky door opens. Usually no one gets off. Hardly ever does anyone get on. Today the bus comes knocking up dust all over Main Street — bit of a wind rising — and it comes to a pinpoint stop where the sign specifies — in front of Tom’s Tool, our hardware store. The bus door is on the other side of the bus from where I sit, so all I can do is sip my coffee and hope, wonder, pray that some petite B cup little girl seeking her next Hollywood gets off at our stop. The bus pulls away, and I see her: red wavy hair, one suitcase, about five foot even, and I look at her jeans and imagine her vulva. Think about taking my Norelco to that motherfucker and getting to work.
The bus is still in front of Tom’s.
This is a good sign.
The longer it sits there, the greater the chance that the bus driver is taking someone’s bags from underneath the bus.
Of course it could be some grandma and grandpa come here to move in with their relatives and die.
But it could be my little girl.
I drink almost my whole cup of coffee waiting for the bus to pass.
“Black?” Betsy says.
I put the cup on the counter and don’t say a thing.
This is my church, the Pain bus stop.
I worship here, waiting for a savior, some girl to save me from my boredom, save me from killing myself with my own tools, leaving the most bizarre suicide scene in the history of the world.
Betsy fills my cup with her sour coffee which I’ve gotten used to.
I feel Pain owes me one today — something — I’ll even take an older woman or someone with C cups — I can cut her down to size.
The bus just sits there.
My imagination drives me into a frenzy such that I cannot even pick up the fresh cup of coffee.
Images in my head of what could be behind that bus have my dick hard and I have to cover it with the one sheet.
This could be the one — ’cause I’m not gonna do this forever.
I’m looking for the perfect one, you understand?
I need the girl to end all girls!
I didn’t set off to kill hundreds! I set off to kill one!
But the perfect one.
And with each new one, only the imperfections become apparent.
That’s the problem.
With each new one, I become less and less satisfied, more and more desperate for the one I can make into my perfect one.
The bus doors creak closed.
The driver is back in his seat.
And the bus pulls away, and there is someone there. And it isn’t granny and granddad moving here to die.
My mouth opens.
And what I see across the street makes me cum involuntarily, semen pumping along the side of my leg and seeping through my jeans.
- Read the outline for this book