Because I Can by David Norman

They think they have me. They burst into my home, warrant in hand. They have me guarded by three very nervous uniformed officers as I sit at my kitchen table. These men look both terrified and perplexed. They scrutinize everything about me from the way I look to the way I move, as if they could somehow read my soul. I know what they are thinking: “Could this really be the person capable of such wickedness? Am I really in the presence of unadulterated evil?” With the smallest movement of my hand, they twitch, ready to pounce. They can’t help but react to the stress. Their eyes are dilated, chests rise and fall in rapid shallow successions, and they stand slightly hunched, possessing all the tension of a lioness ready to defend her young. Two of them are ready to run and the other . . . yes, he is a fighter. He’s angry and looking for an excuse to discharge his weapon and end it all here. And yet, I remain calm.

The detectives are searching every corner and crevice of my home. They think they will find a smoking gun. That’s just silly—I’m too good at this to be so clumsy. The only thing that can give me up . . . is me. And I am cool as a fall morning. They could throw me into a furnace, melt me down, and all they would find is a lump of cold, hard steel where my heart should be. So, it matters not what they do. I simply will not break. It’s how I do these things in the first place. Yes, I admit it, I am evil, and my actions are completely reprehensible. I torture people to death with complete impunity. I quite like it, actually. It’s almost like research at first—waiting, watching, analyzing—finding the perfect prey. I like my victims to fight when they suddenly realize what is happening. I like them to scream. Ideally, they will go through all of the stages: pleading, bargaining, and finally threatening. These things are requisite for my work to be perfect. Quite unsatisfactorily, however, not all victims are created equally, and many are not up to such dramatic professions. Some give up way too easily. Others are silent-frozen in fear. Finding the good ones, the victims that play their parts well, now that is an art. And I am the Michelangelo of Malevolence—the Da Vinci of Death. Just as the beauty of a flame requires the destruction of a match, I also create my works of wonder by means of destruction. The souls that perish ever so slowly and painfully at my hand ought to feel honored I chose them, for I will immortalize them with my gift. Forever conjoined they and I will be. They are the canvas upon which I . . . inflict my art.

As fate would have it, my work will not be appropriately valued until after I am gone, just like all of the greatest artists. I recognize that. My talents will not be fully appreciated or even comprehended for generations. I am ahead of my time, and this loathsome society of simpletons that I suffer every day is in need of much evolution and enlightenment before recognizing my genius. Perhaps in their grandchildren’s or great-grandchildren’s day, they will attain adequate sophistication to finally honor my brilliance. But until such time that I am glorified as the Creator of Crisis, the Master of Mayhem that I am, I will be feared; I will be respected.

As for the dozen or so detectives and officers in my home now, they are nitwits. Not one of them is in possession of the intelligence necessary to keep pace in this game we are playing. They wouldn’t be here now if I hadn’t led them here with an anonymous tip. They are lightweights, imbeciles. They are more akin to “Keystone Cops” than serious detectives. All the same, I’m glad we are finally to this stage now. This is where the hunter is suddenly the hunted. I am too smart for these miserable big-city wannabes. I am out of their league. Wait until they present the charges to me: “You are under arrest on the charges of fifteen counts of murder.” Oh, I can act surprised. I can feign sick and even compel myself to vomit when they show me the gory photos of bloody, mutilated carcasses. What a worthy show I will put on. What incredulity they will see on my face. What pure shock. At that very moment, they will be struck with confounding self-doubt. They will question their investigation, their findings, everything—even their own judgment. Yes, they seem so sure of themselves right now, but they will find their arrogance shattered into pieces and floating away in the rivers of blood I bathed in as I gutted those poor people. They feel so safe now that they are about to arrest the villain responsible for such unimaginable debauchery. But after my performance, they will not feel so safe. They will be forced to release me and dismiss the charges. As soon as they apologize to me, a distinguished and honored Professor, they will rush back to their crime scenes and files to find something, anything, to lead them to the devil that perpetrated such violence. Oh, I laugh at the thought of the detectives scrambling to start over, to find me before I strike again. But they will have already found me, and let me go . . . let me go only to become their own personal nightmare. Oh, yes. It’s delightful to imagine. I almost cannot stand the perfect irony of it! I will find them, where they live, and I will wipe out their families first. I can just see it now: they will spend hours and days pouring over every minute bit of information, anxiously wringing their hands in frustration, emotions teeming over to the brink of breakdown. And then one day, these mental midgets will come home to self-medicate with cheap beer and a few hours of mind-numbing sitcoms, hoping to forget the awfulness for a while. But instead, they will find the very devil they look for has found them first. Oh, the horror they will come home to. What gore. What a composition of glorious depravity! I mustn’t think of their reactions now for I must show no emotion, give no clue as they watch me so closely at this moment. I must remain here inside myself, hiding deep within the darkness of this meat-suit I wear, portraying no reaction, no hint of guilt or fear. They look for that; they are trained to see it. The best of them can smell it even. But they will not see or smell guilt or fear from me. Yes, I killed all those people—and many more that they don’t know about yet—but I have no guilt. How can I if I have no heart? And fear—ha! Fear is for the weak and feeling. I am strong—the strongest. They will never know it was me. At least not until I visit them in their grief—perhaps the night of the funerals for their families. Oh, yes. That is brilliant! That is . . . beautifully poetic. And when I visit them in their grief, they will look into my eyes, and they will know that they nearly had me once. They will think, “You hideous monster! I had known it was you. You were in my grasp, but I let you go? I released you, and now you have murdered my family.” And then they will expect to die in that selfsame moment. They will long for it, but they will not know the deliverance of death. No suffering will be assuaged in that moment. For I will carve out their eyes with spoons from their own kitchens that they cannot see; I will cut out their tongues with their own knives that they cannot speak; I will sever their digits one by one that they cannot write. I will leave them in a dark and silent prison to suffer in the depths of darkness alone, unable to see the consoling face of a friend, unable to speak or write a word, completely incapable of conveying a name—mine—as their tormentor, as the slayer of their loved ones. But their ears—I will not harm their ears so that when I visit them, I can whisper into them, “It is me. It’s our anniversary, and I am here to tell you yet again the story of how your family pleaded for their lives; how their suffering was so exquisite, they repeatedly implored for death to end the pain and horror; how they vehemently begged the question, ‘Why? Why are you doing this?’ ” I will slowly whisper into the perfect ear of my mute and blind friends, “Because… I… caaaaaan.”


David Norman is a senior at Weber State University pursuing a BA in English. He discovered his love of literature and writing only two years ago, and has since become broadly read through his studies. He is married and a father of four children.