28 Nov 97

Disposing of Evidence

Why can't murderers dispose of the evidence of their crimes? Or rather, why do they need to keep it around?

Example: Your girlfriend comes over and she starts to giggle uncontrollably at your penis, which, you must admit, does have weird purple coloring and look surprisingly like a little shaved stoat, but GODDAMMIT that's not her place to say, and after a feverish raging blackout (in which you just somehow found an 18 inch machete blade leaping into your hand), you dismember her. Whoops.

Okay, spend a little time calming down, because, let's face it, you're been feeling high strung, and you need a clear head for this one. You need to decide between the big two options: call the cops and wait for them to come arrest your ass, thus beginning a new and exciting life in the world of non-consensual sodomy, or dispose of the body thoroughly.

These are your options, but if you're the average deranged killer, you ignore them and keep the body around, thus defaulting to option one, the one where you're called "Buckeye" and forced to wear spats with your state-provided skirt. In fact, if you're the standard media murderer, you cut up the body and keep it in packages around the house. Why? Why do crazed lunatic killers do this? You might as well work for your prosecuting lawyer.

COP 1: Hey, Bob, can we come in and chat for a while?

KILLER: Sure, officer. I've got nothing to hide.

COP 2: Nobody says you do, Bob.

KILLER: (Already nervous) Ha ha ha!

COP 1: So nobody's heard from Marie in two weeks.

KILLER: Yeah, I'd like to know where she is, I really would.

COP 1: Heard you guys been fighting.

KILLER: Sure, but we were working it out, we really were. Not like her to just run off.

COP 2: (Looking querulously at Bob, then sniffing the air.) Hey, what's that smell?

KILLER: Oh, I just keep a lot of extra meat around the apartment in little boxes, you know. Little boxes, meat. You know?

COP 1: (Smiles at Bob.) Sure, sure...

KILLER: Yeah, it's an experiment in, uh, parthenogenesis, to see if maggots will spontaneously appear.

COP 2: Hey, Bob, that was disproved pretty soundly during the Enlightenment. I mean, even the Romans doubted it.

KILLER: Sure, but you know, the scientific method and all. Can't ever let that stuff sit. Gotta find out for myself.

COP 2: But you're an English professor, right? Why're you doing scientific--

COP 1: Just an amateur scientist, eh? What kind of meat?

KILLER: Just some venison.

COP 1: Hey, you hunt?

KILLER: No! I don't own any weapons, see, I just get the meat from my uncle. You guys know him--

COP 2: Whatcha sitting on there, Bob?

KILLER: What? Uh, this? Here? Nothing.

COP 1: It's a chest of drawers, huh?

COP 2: Nice looking, too. That's why I asked. Can I take a look? I'm always on the lookout for furniture. Keeps my Agnes happy. You know my wife, right? She's Marie's cousin.

KILLER: Sure, yeah, just don't...open it, it's just been, you know, varnished. This morning.

COP 2: Oh, I've got a light touch.

KILLER: No, don't, there's...

COP 2: (Backs off.) Sure, hey, no problem. That's like some kind of unscented varnish?

KILLER: (Brow furrows.) Yeah, I got it on sale at Channel. I mean, I don't have anything to hide.

COP 2: No problem. Be careful sitting on it, the varnish can rub off on your pants. You mind if I get myself a drink of water?

KILLER: Sure. (Can't decide between leaving his perch for the kitchen or staying put.) But do me a favor and don't get any ice? The freezer hasn't been working and I keep the door shut unless...

COP 2: Absolutely. Wouldn't think of it.

KILLER: I mean, there's nothing in the freezer you can't see.

COP 1: Nobody said there was, Bob.

KILLER: Ha ha ha!

COP 1: So, you have any plans for the holiday?

KILLER: Well, thought I might take a trip, maybe get on a plane, go south.

COP 1: Oh, I wouldn't do that.

KILLER: Why not? Why should I stay here?

COP 2: (Yells from the kitchen.) Hey, did you kill her, Bob?

KILLER: Wha--what? Huh? (Starts to shake.)

COP 2: (Enters the living room, holding a glass of water with ice cubes.) I said, "The air fare's a killer, Bob."

KILLER: (Eyes bug out at ice cubes.) Oh, sure is.

COP 1: That's why I wouldn't do it. Wait till off season, take it then. Unless you need to get out of the country.

KILLER: I really need a break, yeah.

COP 2: Hear you on that one. That her head in the freezer?


COP 2: Going to Florida? Hang out with the geezers?

KILLER: Something like that.

COP 1: Hearing okay, Bob?

KILLER: No, no, kind of bad, lately. Gotta get it checked.

COP 2: I hear that goes with a weasel dick.

KILLER: Come again?

COP 2: My hearing goes when I'm sick.

KILLER: Yeah, it's a head cold, I guess.

COP 2: Her head's pretty cold in the fridge.

KILLER: Huh? What did you--

COP 1: Nothing like a head cold. No wonder you want to go down to Florida. You read much? As an English professor?

KILLER: (Looks around the room at bookshelves, head twitching as he does.) You could say that.

COP 1: I was just reading this story by Edgar Allen Poe, The Tell-Tale Heart. I like the cops in that story. You ever read that?

KILLER: (Starts crying uncontrollably.) Jesus, yes.

COP 2: Bob, you're getting high strung. Something you want to tell us?

COP 1: If you're upset about Marie, we could leave, come back later. Sure, sure, let's get out of here, Mike.

COP 2: Before I go, you got any that venison not sitting around? In the fridge? I love a good venison steak.

(Bob leaps up and runs for the door; the two cops catch him and wrestle him to the ground.)

KILLER: She asked for it, all right? It's not my fault.

COP 2: Kind of suspected after I saw her head. I gotta tell you, you have the right to remain silent...

Bob had the incorrect approach to killing his girlfriend, and now he'll be the star bronco in the prison rodeo. First of all, he kept the body around the house. This is even more incriminating than if he had buried Marie in a shallow grave marked "ded murdar viktim kiled by Bob." He also began to cry in front of cops--and he taught English Literature, instantly casting him under suspicion (Ph.D. on the work of Norman Mailer, no less).

What else? He wore Marie's blood-covered dress around town right after the murder, posted an Internet confession to alt.dead.girlfriend, and called a local slaughterhouse, identified himself, and asked for their advice line. Killers, those calls are logged!

Bob could have kept calm and pursued several sensible options. He might have moved to Montana, the only state with "Death's Well-Trod Doormat" as its state motto. He may have asked Agent Scully to help him fake his own death. And most of all, he could have disposed of the evidence, ferchrissakes.

Killing is wrong, but predictability is worse. Taking life should not be taken lightly; it's up to you to do it with panache, intelligence, and style. Let me know how it turns out.




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About the author: I've been running this website from 1997. For a living I write stories and essays, program computers, edit things, and help people launch online publications. (LinkedIn). I wrote a novel. I was an editor at Harper's Magazine for five years; then I was a Contributing Editor; now I am a free agent. I was also on NPR's All Things Considered for a while. I still write for The Morning News, and some other places.

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