Deadly Jests

(This one is a bit messed up. You’ve been warned.)

It’s ironic – the name they gave me. I’ve never been a funny guy. And I work in private; there was never meant to be a witness. I don’t do what I do for the attention of others, it’s merely a game I’ve been playing since I was young. The newspaper headline read today “Death Ruled Non-accident Killer Unidentified.” Really, it was a suicide. But that’s not the way the media saw it. They said I made a “deadly jest” which I suppose is accurate to the way I work. But I’m not a funny guy.

Let’s start at the beginning, and by the time I’m done writing this, you’ll understand how easy it is to make a murder look like a suicide – just as mine surely did when you found this note.

I had a normal childhood; no abuse, no neglect, just love and happiness. I never had schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, psychosis or anything. It doesn’t run in the family either.

The year was 1997, the day, December 31st. I was 12 at the time and my first victim was my older cousin. To put it plainly, he was a waste of time and space, a complete piece of shit and didn’t deserve life. At least that’s how I felt. He was fat, too fat. His siblings and all the cousins were bullied by him and, of course, the adults never cared. They rolled their eyes that we were “tattling” on him again.

I don’t want to go into details because he was a fucked up kid. I was too young at the time to understand. Either way, when things like that happen between family, it stays quiet. No true punishment happens to anyone except the victims. Luckily for everyone at the New Year’s family party, they wouldn’t have to live with the guilt and shame of this boy much longer.

I wasn’t the only one around when I asked if he wanted to sneak out to the farm’s pond. My older sister came with us to sit around the pond and watch the neighbor’s fireworks. To any worthless 14-year-old, this was an innocent request from a cousin. To me, it was the staging of his death.

We got down to the shore and watched the fireworks pop in the air. The rich neighbors spared no expense – it was nearly as good as any professional show could have been. By my count, we had three more minutes until midnight officially. That’s when I told him I bet he couldn’t swim across the pond and back. I dared him and you can’t say no to an innocent dare when you’re in a good mood.

I knew he would. I knew he’d go.

I also knew my sister would leave so she didn’t have to get cold and wet. As soon as she left and my cousin was shirtless, he stepped a foot into the water with a shiver. “When you get to the other side,” I said with a shameless grin on my face, “put this on.” I showed him a dirty blanket we’d brought to sit on.

“Put it…on?”

“Yeah, it’ll be cool. And it proves you made it to the other side. Wrap yourself up in it and swim with it like a stingray or something. Unless you’re scared,” I taunted.

His face turned serious. “I’ll do this then you’re doing it, dick.”

“Fine,” I yelled back as I set the blanket down on the other side of the pond. I ran back to his starting place to watch.

After trying to slowly step into the water, he finally gave up and just jumped in. Through the light of the fireworks I could see the ripples in the water. I could hear the splashes and see the occasional flailing limb. He grabbed the blanket on the other side, wrapped himself up and jumped back in, panting from the first half of the swim.

A firework lit up the sky and I was able to make out an arm, twisted in a wet blanket. The next firework showed me a foot on the surface of the pond, half wrapped too. Another firework showed me bubbles and ripples. I heard a muffled scream and splashing water as I looked on, content. The next firework revealed more ripples on the water. A few fireworks later and the pond was peaceful again. I smiled and waited, making sure he was dead before I did anything. Then, I jumped in the water to get wet. “Happy New Year, asshole,” I whispered as I got out.

A few minutes later, I took off at full speed toward the house. Busting in the back door with admittedly fake tears in my eyes, I gave a convincing performance to the adults, all drunk on champagne and cheap wine.

By the time they fished his body out, he was cold and blue.

The funeral was touching and full of lies. “Too soon,” was the catchphrase. Even my cousins who were now free of his torture, shed tears for that creature. I, still trying to avoid suspicion, cried the hardest of anyone there.

“It’s not your fault,” many said to me. “There’s nothing you could have done,” whispered others. “He’s in a better place,” said others, though I doubted the statement’s validity. It was safe to say his death was an accident and I was just an onlooking victim, definitely not the orchestrator of his untimely demise.

All I could think was the pure joy I felt as he struggled. I knew I didn’t lift a hand and he killed himself. It was a beautiful feeling and I loved every second of it.

Unfortunately for others, they weren’t quite as guilty. I convinced one person a year to kill themselves from then on. From biking into the road to having someone play a deadly prank on another, I never was directly responsible for any of their deaths.

The killing got way easier when I got to high school and college where drunken idiots were running rampant. Most of my victims were guilty only of drunken antics from then on. Four years of university were marked with four tragically lost classmates.

After college, mostly random people I was acquainted with killed themselves or killed someone by accident. It felt amazing every time. A cinderblock crushing a skull was music to my ears; the screams as a woman burned to death were a symphony.

My most recent victim killed himself yesterday evening on New Year’s Eve. I wanted to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of my first victim with a new one so I went drinking with some executives from a business I contracted at for a while. After catching up on life, I had isolated a sad, depressed man named Kevin whose wife just left him. He’d be reckless and willing to do something dumb for attention while drunk.

I took him to the top of a car garage where he lazily walked around. Kevin told me how sad he was, how he just wanted to jump and end it. I walked onto the edge and jumped around. He said he was too drunk to even try something that acrobatic. “$100 says you can do it!” I said cheerfully. “Look, there’s some people down there.” I pointed below where they were heading out to their cars. “It’ll make a hilarious joke if you stand on the edge and yell at them that you’re going to jump. $100.”

Kevin chuckled at the idea and stumbled his way onto the edge. “Look at me!” he yelled, getting the attention of his horrified onlookers. “I’m gonna jump! Hahahaha,” he cackled.

They screamed indiscriminately up to him but they could only watch as his joke turned to his death. He was somber as he let out a few tears and fell over the edge. He only needed a figurative push, not a literal one to take the plunge. He turned his own joke into a “what if” in his head so fast that I had to admit I was surprised.

Even from seven stories up I could hear the sound as he slammed into a car below, yelling the whole way. I was sure to stay out of the cameras while I made my escape. Someone overheard our conversation and reported it to the police. They couldn’t even pin me to the scene if they tried, not that that’s necessary anymore. I’m dead.

All those people I watched die, they’ve come back for me tonight. All 20 of them. They’re standing around me, staring, for those who have eyes. There’s a few with smashed in heads, a few burnt to a crisp, a few blue and suffocated, and of course my asshole cousin, dripping wet, covered in a blanket with his cloudy eyes glaring at me.

“You won’t kill another,” says Kevin. I can barely understand his words with how crushed his head is. “We’ll make it fast,” says another. “Come with us,” says yet another. They’ve been here for hours, staring into my soul, judging me as guilty, all looking just the way they did when they died. They’ve been here long enough for me to go insane and actually type this out.

It’s time, they tell me. I don’t want to go. But I guess when you’ve committed the atrocities I have, you get taken to down by an entourage of those you’ve hurt.

Let the record show this isn’t a suicide note. Because this isn’t a suicide. Happy New Year.

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