The first victim was an accident.
Mike was having a difficult day so he headed to the bar to unwind. Some people claimed he was an alcoholic, but it wasn’t like he had to have a drink all the time. Only when he had a rough day. His doctor warned him that he shouldn’t consume alcohol when taking his anxiety meds, but he didn’t think his meds worked anyway. Then he noticed the girl. She was sitting at a table alone, looking like she had been stood up. Perfect opportunity to swoop in and save the evening. By the end of the night, they were both laughing and acting like fools, and extremely drunk. Walking her home, they were both a little wobbly. She tripped and fell into him, unexpectedly triggering an outburst of anger. Then she made the mistake of calling him “Mikey” in a whiney tone that made him want to punch her.
The next thing he remembered was blood on his fist and the girl on the ground refusing to answer him when he asked if she was okay. Except in reality, she wasn’t refusing, she was dead. He walked away in anger leaving her where she lay.
Fighting a hangover, he couldn’t get rid of the pounding in his head until Mike finally realized that he had passed out on the couch and there was an intense knocking at the door. He opened the door to discover two policemen wanting to know if they could come in. He had a distrust of law enforcement, so he stepped outside to answer their questions instead.
Mike was a good liar. He knew just how to position his body and which direction to look to make it seem like he was being sincere. Yes, he was at the bar with that woman. Yes, they left together. But the rest of his story was fabricated from there. He told the officers that he walked her home, then left without so much as a kiss goodnight, and had been asleep alone up to this very moment.
The rest of that month was a bit of a blur. More alcohol, but no more bars. The police still had an open case on the possible homicide of the girl from the bar. Although Mike was no longer a suspect, the unknown possibilities made it difficult for him to sleep at night or focus during the day. After a homeless man was arrested for the killing, Mike finally started to relax. He knew there was no evidence to convict the homeless man, so there was no guilt there.
One thing Mike continued to do, was to write in his journal. This was the third little black book that was given to him by his therapist. The first two were filled within a few months’ time. This one was not nearly as detailed ... until the night after the bar incident when he wrote everything that he could remember. Tequila made the memory a little foggy, but he had the main points. After the arrest of the homeless man, he felt exhilarated! He got away with it. He started to remember the rush of adrenaline after hearing her head crack against the sidewalk. He remembered the power he felt as he walked away from her lifeless body. In a weird way, he started to think he may have actually enjoyed killing her.
There was only one way to know for sure if killing brought him the peace he had been searching for. This time he made sure to choose a different bar ... one where no one knew him. This time the booze did not make him laugh. Maybe it was because he was hunting instead of trying to forget a bad day. The girl he went home with was rather plain. Not ugly, but not exactly pretty either. Her boyfriend had recently broken up with her. Mike determined that the break-up was due to her cheating, although there was nothing to back up his theory. But the cheating story made him angry at her. The alcohol mixed with the benzos in his system and made him even angrier.
As soon as they stepped through her doorway, he had his necktie wrapped around her neck, twisting tighter and tighter, until that cheating whore would no longer break another man’s heart.
Mike calmly walked out the door, taking the necktie with him and using it as a barrier between his hands and the door handle. He hadn’t touched anything on the way in and paid attention to ensure she didn’t scratch him which would hide his DNA under her fingernails.
The next morning there were no police at his door. The news said nothing of her death. Perhaps they wouldn’t find her until she missed a few days at work. Mike wrote the details in his journal. The first death didn’t feel nearly as good as this one. Now he was on a mission to get rid of women who did not treat their men with the respect they deserved. He shivered with anticipation. He was actually starting to enjoy this.
Throughout the summer, Mike found other women who deserved to be removed from this earth. He was careful to hunt in different areas and use different methods to bring about his idea of justice. It saddened him to hear the news calling him a serial killer.
After every kill, he wrote the details in his journal. Details about the who, how, and why. He was raised in a good home and taught right from wrong. In the back of his mind, he believed killing was wrong, but he managed to justify his actions not so much as killing, but as bringing about justice. And Justice was a good thing.
As summer drew to a close and Mike prepared for the fall holidays, his anxiety levels increased. Holidays were always rough for him. He felt like he disappointed his family. He felt like he was different from the rest of them. They were all normal. He had been struggling with anger, anxiety, and compulsions for as long as he could remember. His sister, Ashley, was worried about him. Every other month she would bring lunch and they would visit for a bit, reminiscing about their childhood or discussing the stock market. This time she asked if he would come to visit her instead. She was concerned that the police still hadn’t caught the man they called the “Random Killer.” The name was a reflection of all they didn’t understand about him. They thought that other than being female, victims were chosen at random. They couldn’t see his reasoning for the need for “justice.” Ashley wanted to make sure that she wasn’t the next random target. She had no way of knowing the involvement of her brother.
The news was on when he arrived at her home. They were talking about him again, although they were just as close to identifying him as they were when they started. A reward was being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the guilty party. Ashley was terrified. Mike knew there was no way to calm her fears without telling her everything, so he said nothing.
Their lunch was quieter than normal, both of them lost in their own thoughts. She reminded him how much she loved him as he prepared to leave. His last words out the door were “Don’t worry, I promise it will be alright.” Small comfort when you are haunted by the unknown.
As soon as he arrived back at his apartment, he pulled out the journal and began reading. Odd. It didn’t sound like this when he first wrote it. As he read, he realized that his mind had been completely clouded by his drinking. He was beginning to see the horror of what at one time seemed enjoyable to him. Mike closed the book and cried. He prayed to a God that he hadn’t spoken to in years. Then a strange peace settled over him. He knew what he had to do. He knew there would be consequences, but that didn’t matter anymore.
Ultimately, he decided to confide in his sister. She would always love him but Ashley apparently had a better grasp on good and evil than he did. Arriving on her doorstep for the second time that day, he knew things were about to change forever. Ashley answered the door and he handed her the notebook. “Please don’t read it. Just call the police and tell them you found it.” Then he turned around and walked away. The police would come, he would be arrested, and Ashley would receive the reward which had been increased to $20,000. The “Random Killer” was done working.
Photo by Enrico Hänel from Pexels
As a prisoner of Minnesota, there is no death penalty even though Mike knew he deserved it. He was facing the rest of his life in prison. He could no longer drink his problems away, and the medication that was supposed to help him was still being reviewed by the prison board. His head buzzed non-stop while anger made his chest hurt.
One night after head count, he returned to his cell. His cellmate had recently been moved to another pod, so he was alone at the moment. Mike took the bedsheet from his bunk and calmly twisted it into a rope. He wrapped one end around the bed frame and the other around his neck. Silence remained in the cell block until long after he was gone.
Although this is a work of fiction, it is intended to highlight the growing problem of untreated mental illness. There are numerous people who look normal on the outside, but struggle with inner demons that threaten to push them over the edge. Within the general American population, 20% of adults experience some type of mental illness.
If my story motivates you to help in some way, please consider a donation to NAMI, the National Association of Mental Illness. If you struggle with mental illness and do not have a support system in place, please contact NAMI at 1-800-950-6264 or https://nami.org/help.