The Statement of Elliot C. Siskin
By JACK PENCILLE
He was the type to forget he was supposed to be dead.
Let me clarify, Officer, I loved Lawrence like nothing else. He was my soul and my heart, the love of my life and the thorn in my side. He was loving but clingy, always the kind of man who thought he could control me by threatening to kill himself over a missed dinner date (an accident during the week of a new exhibit at my gallery, I assure you) or yowling at my door like a stray cat, begging to be let in.
So I had to do it.
The first time was easy enough. He left me suicide note after suicide note until we moved into an apartment together, though I tried to spend as little time as possible at home. One morning, while he was sleeping, I made us two cups of coffee: his with creamer and sugar and drain cleaner and mine, black with a tablespoon of sugar.
I served it to him with the promise of being home early from work. Then I went off to get ready, showering away my delight.
I spent my day in a daze, perhaps filing some forms wrong or misplacing the artist names on the cards, needing to redo them before the exhibition. I went home early with the mention of a migraine, loosening my tie just enough and really playing up the pain.
When I got home, everything was just as I needed it. He was dead””messily, of course””in our bed, only having finished half his coffee.
I went to the kitchen, kept the bedroom door shut tightly, and made myself dinner””steak, with a glass of brandy I’d been saving””while I contemplated what to do with the body. I considered calling the police, I really did. But there was so much that would point to me.
I decided to dump the body somewhere along the highway, on the outskirts of town. I had suicide letters to back up my story, coworkers to supply me with an alibi and, aside from Lawrence himself, there was no one else in our apartment.
So, toward two in the morning, I put on a pair of thick rubber gloves I used for heavy cleaning and rolled him up in the sheets soiled with his own bloody vomit, placed him in the backseat of my car.
It went so smoothly I felt guilty as I pushed him out on the side of the road.
But a quick shower absolved me of that feeling.
I put fresh sheets, new blankets on the bed, curling up in the center of the mattress, clutching my pillow close. Finally, I was free.
And, Officer, I tell you I could have slept soundly for the rest of my life knowing I had killed him.
But he just wouldn’t stay dead.
I woke up late, deciding to take care of some work on my day off, sending emails about the upcoming exhibit, making sure everyone knew their place, their role.
When I went to the kitchen to open my laptop, Lawrence was sitting there, staring at me with those big brown eyes.
“Lawrence?” I asked.
“Elliot.” He was cordial, as ever, and pulled me into his naked lap, making that low, satisfied purr he always did when holding me. There was no trace of blood on his face, no foam on his lips.
“You shouldn’t be here.”
“I live here, don’t I?”
I placed my hands on his chest and he was warm and whole and alive and solid. I began laughing, I really did. It seemed I never really could get rid of him. Lawrence wiped at my tears, whispered little pet names in my ear and I knew it was him.
“Go get dressed,” I said, crawling out of his lap and curling up before my laptop.
“Alright. But then I want you to tell me how yesterday went. I feel so terrible for falling asleep all day.”
“You had the flu,” I lied.
Officer, he trusted me. He bought every little lie I poured into him. I lured him, over the course of three days, into a false security. After all, I couldn’t leave my work unfinished. I’m a perfectionist, you see.
The second time, I took the fillet knife””a clumsy Christmas gift that I accepted while explaining I was raised of a different faith””and crept up behind him. He was folding laundry, laying it out on our shared bed, humming something soft and sweet. My heart pounded painfully and I was aware of how loud my pulse was.
You have to believe me when I say I was tempted to turn around and leave, put the knife back in its place and make us breakfast.
But I had to know.
I brought the blade across his throat, slicing before I had a chance to be swayed.
It takes a lot longer for someone to die than you’d think. Lawrence turned, eyes full of hurt, one hand clumsily trying to stop the tide of red that poured from the injury I had caused. I kicked him, just out of spite.
He died so terribly slow and when he stopped writhing, clutching at my ankle, it took some work to get him into the bathtub. He always was a heavy man and I could hardly stand him drawing me close to him in the middle of the night.
I debated carving him like the pig he was, dispersing his body in pieces. I debated simply dumping him again. I debated driving hours and miles to the river to dump him there.
I settled on dissolving the body as best I could without arousing too much suspicion.
Dressed in a nice button-up and slacks, I went out, picking up some drain cleaner. In the younger years of my college youth, I used to dye my hair frequently. That was one of the reasons Lawrence loved me so much. But the dye was terrible to get out and bleach hardly ever did the trick. But drain cleaner got the job done, wiping the stains out.
And now it would do that for me.
I stopped up the tub, adding bottle after bottle, coughing slightly.
It took longer than you might expect, the whole night until the body was decayed enough to satisfy me. And as dawn peeked her bright face into the bathroom, I decided I would lock the door, let him stew in the soup of his own rancid flesh, and dismember him the night after.
So I locked the door, checked it three times, and stripped down, going to bed.
It was much cooler without him there to sweat all over me and drool in my hair and lay on my limbs, pinning them beneath his weight.
And when I woke up, eager to make myself breakfast before dashing off to work. I unlocked the bathroom door only to find the tub empty. Not in the sense that the drain cleaner””whose bottles still littered the bottom of the trashcan when I checked””had done its job. No, it was as if I had never dragged Lawrence in there, laid his body like meat on the chopping block.
“Elliot?” His voice called from behind me, sweet as ever.
“I had the weirdest dream,” he said, kissing the nape of my neck. “Something wrong?”
“No, nothing,” I lied. I pushed past him to get my clothes. “I’ve just been busy.”
“Oh.” He sounded so sad I almost didn’t want to hurt him again.
I shoved past him, showering and staring at the bottles of drain cleaner. He had been here but he hadn’t been here. I felt a migraine coming on.
A dash of brandy to my morning coffee helped me through the day. And, as I looked over things for the exhibit, it finally hit me. If he was being watched, he couldn’t come back. It was the perfect crime and I would finally be free of the asshole who had wormed his way into my life and corrupted it from the inside out.
I came home and Lawrence was waiting for me at the door, pestering me about my day.
“Just . . . be quiet,” I hissed, slamming the door and locking it.
And, Officer, he looked so pitiful. You’ve heard of looking like a kicked puppy but he looked like a kicked, spit upon, and flayed alive puppy.
I took another swig of brandy and it helped steel my nerves for what I was about to do.
Lawrence put a hand on my shoulder, saying something about how he was sorry I was so stressed, how I should take some time off, how he wanted to go to the beach.
I couldn’t help myself.
I gorged him on lies in the weeks that followed. We went to the exhibit and someone made mention that, even for a couple of gentlemen, we made a lovely couple. We made love, though I must have seemed terribly dispassionate.
And, Officer, I killed him again.
This time I did it methodically, telling him my research for skinning pigs was for my newest displays, that I was meditating on taking skin from one creature and turning into something useful. He swallowed it down with his sunny smile that made my blood rage.
I bound and gagged him like a pig. I slit his throat, bled him into buckets, skinned him while he cried and begged.
From his skin, I made canvas. From his blood, paint. From his bones, I carved elaborate sculptures.
It worked so long as I kept watch over the pieces. Once or twice a bone here or some blood there would go missing, turning up in perfect condition in my sink or in my fridge.
The night of the exhibit, well, you know. You were there. You put the cuffs on me. A bit too roughly, I might add.
Why are you taking them off?
“Lawrence is here. A big misunderstanding. The department would like me to issue an apology,” you say.
He’s here? But he can’t be. I killed him. He’s dead and his remains are in that gallery.
I shake my head as you open the door. It looks like Lawrence, and he sounds like Lawrence when he says my name. His nose even wrinkles when he smiles so big.
“Officer, please, I can’t go home with this man,” I insist. “He should be dead.”