“I killed someone.” His voice was soft and distant as if he was unaware that he was saying anything at all. He spoke facing the window looking down across the hotel parking lot. It was full this time of night. Fellow sinners packed in like sardines trying to beat the weather that was moving in fast from the west. He was headed west. The desert.
The prostitute in his bed was about one drink away from blacking out. Five feet nothing and barely a hundred pounds, including make-up and piercings, she wasn’t much to look at but she had all the right parts and as far as he knew they were in good working order. He needed those tonight, the soft touch of a woman, and those warm juicy bits of humanity. He had picked her up an hour earlier downstairs in the hotel bar, which was no great feat in and of itself, two hundred dollars could buy just about anything here at this hour. Since then she had just been downing drinks while he stared thoughtfully out the window, lost in a world of his own creation, built with bricks of blood and pain. He wondered if he could ever be as numb as she was trying to get right now. Right now he felt everything. He was a raw nerve, exposed to the frigid air of the night. He didn’t think he could take it much longer. His confession had startled her out of her melancholy and she scooched over to the edge of the bed and sat her drink down on the faded, cum stained finish of the night stand. “Hell honey,” she said shimmying out of her cherry red panties and spreading her legs wide before him in the low light of the lonely room, “who hasn’t?”
The sex had been satisfying. That’s all he could think after they had finished, the thought lost somewhere in the back of his mind, like a faded memory quickly becoming replaced by the present. It wasn’t as if she wasn’t skilled at love-making. She had done things to him that a woman had never done, things that most people would consider sick, debaucherously impure or worse, perverted and unholy. But it was satisfying, the release, the distraction, the blood. The blood is always soothing. It comforted him and allowed him to get lost in the moment, if only briefly. Now that he was done and dressed he knew he couldn’t rest, not yet. There was no need to dispose of the body, no matter how practiced he had become, how meticulous and efficient he was now. He would never be here again in this place, in this time, in this den of inequity. No one would know what he had done to her. No one would know what he had done to any of them. That was his curse, his cross to bear. To serve his destiny, his purpose on this planet silently, without a name or a face to put with his violence. He was a cleaner. He swept up the dregs and the outcasts, the discarded and disgusting. But soon his job would be done, his hours put in. His time short, his days numbered. Soon he would clock out and allow the next cleaner to shine, to make his mark upon the face of the deep. It was hard being God.
Tonight would be his last job. The hotel, his last job site. He had everything he needed to perform his duties efficiently. He walked out of the bathroom, stepping over the hooker’s body splayed out on the bathroom floor, her body pale and blue in the filtered light of the room. He retrieved his bag from underneath the bed. He had stowed it there before he had went downstairs to the bar to find her, the list in his pocket folded neatly in half horizontally, crisp and safe in his jacket’s inside pocket.
He unzipped the dark, plain duffel and replaced the empty syringe back into its sleeve inside the top lining of the duffel. It had been filled with simple household bleach and placed beneath the pillows on the bed. He had used it all, injecting it into the hooker’s neck as she relaxed and stretched out on the bed afterwards. The shock of the needle and the intense burning that accompanied it sent her running into the bathroom, a primitive flight or fight response. In her confusion, she had run into a room with no exit and he had merely followed behind her and watched her writhe on the floor until her organs liquefied, white foam oozing from her mouth, her lips parted in pain.
He sorted through his bag, taking inventory of his utensils. There were a few knives, a cleaver, and a ball peen hammer with a wooden handle wrapped in electrical tape. Wood handles tend to crack and splinter, catching skin in their creases as the wood gave way and split under the pressure of contact with hard surfaces. Sometimes the surface didn’t give on the first blow causing the hammer to reverberate, sending shock waves down the short, wooden handle. Sometimes it took several blows to achieve the desired effect, to drive through bone and connecting tissue.
Along with the knives, cleaver, and hammer, his bag held a small box of latex gloves, a lightweight plastic apron, and a pair of cheap plastic goggles, the kind you buy for dips in your local pool. He didn’t believe in using guns for his work. He preferred the intimacy of bladed weapons and the force of hammers. He enjoyed the deconstruction of the human body. It was a job requirement.
He held the list in front of him, the one with the names on it that he kept in his jacket pocket. His bill of lading. His list of jobs. He perused the names on the list and checked them against room numbers. The next one was two doors down.