The Whispering Garden

 In Permanence of Wings, Today's Feed

Written by: Leni Sosa; Permanence of Wings

Warning: This is written from the perspective of a serial killer, so reader beware. This isn’t for everyone. I apologize, but I’ve read too much about the topic this year in educational materials … and far too much Stephen King and Poe. This is an ode to them …

There is no greater horror than a monster that looks human.

You are the keeper of my greatest contributions. Brown leather, 200 pages. My capacity to fill every one excites me and I still have many years of living left. I do not need an outlet, but greatness should be documented in some way, even if it will only be left for the world after I am dead.

My name is Thomas R. Bartel and I am 54 years old. I was born and bred in Campton, Missouri, then moved to Maine to be rid of the life I knew. I married there, but my luck turned when the hag died from an infection. I do not have children. I broke ties with my in-laws and people she’d refer to as friends – to have the life I’ve always wanted. Now I live in Rolan, Massachusetts. Not much about my past is worth mentioning. I retired three years ago and enjoy my days landscaping and cooking. This is what those around me see.

Nine whores are buried deep in my private garden in the backyard of this property, beneath the mature fir and spruce trees bordering the perimetre in the back. They do not have names anymore. They’re cattle… unworthy of more than a number. But I do remember every set of eyes. I remember how they dimmed.

Soon, I will have to find another option. I’ve been moving them off the farm to this house where I can be close to them and listen to their helpless whispers. I still have some room left where I can plant more mature trees in the backyard. Buying a home in a good neighbourhood with a big yard in the city and a secluded farm no one knows about, the latter of which has gifted me the freedom to feed my compulsion, were wise decisions. Although the anticipation is thrilling, I wish there was some way to hunt more often without being found out. Sometimes I have had to wait months between disposing of garbage, and I realize now that I may even have to wait years to lessen the odds of discovery.

Unless they misbehave and make me especially angry, I make it quick and place them in the truck or van, depending on how soon I’ll be able to transport the dead whore. Sometimes, I like to take my time to teach a whore a lesson she can take to hell with her. Like the time that stupid bitch had the nerve to spit in my face and ask me “what did mommy do to screw you up so bad”. I wrap them up real nice in material I use to transport the bigger trees. I place wood in with the body so that it doesn’t go limp when I carry it into the house. It must look like an object… a tree. The neighbours assume I’m bringing in something for my garden or someone else’s I plan to work on soon, and I don’t want to leave it in the vehicle or in the back until I’m ready to plant or move it again, because of exposure to the elements. So in the garage-workshop it goes. That’s what I would tell them if they asked, but they never do. The truth is that I don’t want the animals to tear into the wrap or risk being discovered. The neighbours … they wave and smile and ask me what project I’m taking on next. I wish I could just let them know I’m burying some sinning bitch … disposing of the trash. I wish I could tell them that the beauty of my work is below the earth … what they see is only camouflage. It’s the only reason I mastered landscaping. I bury the body myself and get help from a man that doesn’t make suggestions or ask questions with the tree planting. A very stupid but strong man who needs the money. He helps me get the job done with the ‘above-ground’ work. He’s the second hired helper I’ve had. I made a few mistakes at the beginning and the first one was smarter than I had thought. I had to kill him one night and throw him in the river. Of course, now, cutting the cattle up in pieces makes it so that the soil doesn’t look like a grave. I have learned to remain calm during close calls. Panic is an enemy.

Two months ago, a neighbour’s teenage son started poking around suspiciously. I had done a great deal for his mother and when I informed her that he had gone as far as to open the door to my van, she made him apologize. I smiled and said, “No harm, no foul. Teenage boys are just curious.” She thanked me for my patience and understanding. Her son, she had said, has an “intense curiosity and vivid imagination”. He had inevitably passed on a suspicion that she just could not believe. I barely managed to stop him from getting into the back and since then I make sure to check if I’ve locked the doors twice. Annoying little shit, that Angus kid, just like his mother.

Teenagers are too self-absorbed, but once in a while I cross paths with one that pays attention. There are some that see what is right in front of them, unlike their parents that go about their small lives preoccupied with the mundane.

These neighbours see what they want to see and I show them what I want in order to remain hidden in plain sight, but every once in a while there’s a close call.

Childhood is special… the veil is down in the first years. Most children are like animals. You wouldn’t think it, but it’s true. Most people think they’re naive, unintuitive, but they too have a sixth sense like animals, an instinctive quality we grow out of as adults. Or, should I say, we are the only animal that loses that quality as we become adults. Dogs growl, cats hiss. Children wail when they meet my eyes. Primitive little things, aren’t they. But as they shed their primitive skin, they become monsters with masks, just like the rest of us.

We’re monsters in denial, incapable of seeing our truest forms, burying our thoughts in little tasks and tiny lives, pushing out the darkness that takes root, trying to prevent it from sprouting. I don’t push it out and I can see what human beings are. You can say that this is what makes me unique … I have the vision to see what children can but am no longer a child. And, of course, I will the root to flourish. We cannot help being what we are, so why would anyone fight it, and yet the great majority try. Is this not insanity?

Children know there are monsters, they see me in my true form. It’s the adults that don’t live in reality, trying to convince their little runts that there’s nothing to fear. In truth, though, many of them too are monsters in denial, hiding their dark insides with the camouflage of living. Camouflage is so effective that it fools them too and allows them to believe in their own ‘goodness’. I just happen to be a monster that feels no guilt, no shame, no regret ripping into the jugular. I am not at fault for being what I am … nor would I change it.

No one wants to acknowledge that men like me exist. When I moved here I told them how I’d lost my wife and this served me well. I wanted to be rid of her, but she was convenient at the time and it’s not as if I could kill her without a lot of work on my part. I would be the first suspect. The sympathy I received once I played her death up was my first layer of camouflage. I knew to use it to my benefit. Yes, being a married man helped me seem safe. In death, she provided me with a way to garner sympathy. The insurance money also gave me this house in a good neighbourhood, and I don’t have to work again.

I’m Mr. Bartel … or Tom, they call me. I’m a good man … just a sweet man getting a little soft in the middle. The neighbours trust me. I’ve been called on to water their plants and pick up the mail. I’ve fixed their furniture and washing machines. I’ve landscaped their inferior gardens. I’ve shared a beer with the men and tea with their wives. I’ve been a shoulder to cry on and a chest to lean into. I’m skilled, an artist, unlike the great majority of others in my craft. Of course, no one will ever know. That is the bittersweet truth of it.

Sometimes I get tempted to reveal myself to one of the neighbours now and again. I get the urge to tie one up, tell them every beautiful detail and kill them. But I know better. This would only bring me trouble. The whores need to be out of state. It’s a long drive to the farm and another into town, but this process has spared me from detection. It’s when one loses complete control of their desires and escalates in any of the many forms that he or she starts to get sloppy and is bound to become the hunted.

Every now and then I have neighbourhood socials or hold some committee planning meeting at the house. It’s a real pleasure hearing what they have to say about the private garden. It’s a slice of heaven in the ‘burbs, a morsel of majestic beauty in one’s own backyard. It’s perfectly secluded. How can something so beautiful and private exist in a home garden in town. Yes, the house is one of the best on the street, and, yes, the lot is an enormous corner lot, but my garden still remains as something completely unexpected. No one would go to the efforts I have. I want to tell them it isn’t easy, but where would I hide the bodies if not under the trees.

I pick my kills wisely. I follow each one for weeks, sometimes months to be sure. After all, each one makes up the whole. There is an energy flow to every garden and a mistake may disturb what I have worked so hard to create.

And it has truly been gruelling at times. The work it took to fit in goes without saying. I got to know the neighbours very well to find out when I have privacy. There’s only two, since I have the corner lot at the very end. I hunt the night before they’re away and bring the bodies into town and into my home when I get the privacy I require. One year the Kitterages had their niece house-sit and I hadn’t been told. I had to throw a whore’s body into the river and read about it when they found it. I must admit it was all very titillating. I felt aroused by the ordeal even if I was concerned that something may lead them to me. Of course, it wasn’t as arousing as it would have been to kill their whore niece, which I briefly considered, but that would have been far too risky. I don’t need the police knocking on my door wanting to ask me questions.

I have tried to understand why I feel such a strong urge to rid the world of garbage. I see the monstrosities women are and so I am immune to their charm. Yes, we are all monsters, but they are the most powerful ones and must be thinned out in numbers. I feel about as much concern for those fools who fall for the whores, that I do for the whores whose lives I take. It feels like an irritation that can’t be scratched and so it is just there … getting more aggravated. Thinking of the nine alleviates the itch for a bit, though, until it builds back up. I suppose I could just live with it, but if I don’t partake in the thinning, I feel weak. I have tried to discover why I need to squeeze the final breath out of a pretty young tramp or some older slut, but the only thing I’ve discovered is that many of the other ‘garbagemen’ are less tasteful and less selective.

I have no interest in prostitutes that are paid for their sins. There are others to judge them every day. They are already known to be the lowlifes of society and so they pose less harm. I’m after the ones with sharp teeth. I have sharper teeth. I deal with the filth that pretends to be ‘good’. When they’re older, they become cheaters, sexed up flirts who pick and choose who is worth their time. They start so early, though, putting on an act for older men, getting whatever they want, pitting young men against each other. Yes, these are dishonest whores, which makes them the most dangerous kind.

Where has the evening gone. I still have a long night ahead of me. It’s time to put you away in your safe place, under that creeky floorboard. I feel satisfaction at the thought that although one day I will be old and frail, I will pull you out, my confidante, and relish every last word, and relive the hunt to arouse me back to life if only for a little while.

You are the keeper of my greatest contributions: brown leather, 200 pages. My capacity to fill every one excites me and I still have many years of living left. I do not need an outlet, but greatness should be documented in some way, even if it will only be left for the world after I am dead.

My name is Thomas R. Bartel and I am 54 years old. I was born and bred in Campton, Missouri, then moved to Maine to be rid of the life I knew. I married there, but my luck turned when the hag died from an infection. I do not have children. I broke ties with my in-laws and people she’d refer to as friends – to have the life I’ve always wanted. Now I live in Rolan, Massachusetts. Not much about my past is worth mentioning. I retired three years ago and enjoy my days landscaping and cooking. This is what those around me see.

Nine whores are buried deep in my private garden in the backyard of this property, beneath the mature fir and spruce trees bordering the perimetre in the back. They do not have names anymore. They’re cattle… unworthy of more than a number. But I do remember every set of eyes. I remember how they dimmed.

Soon, I will have to find another option. I’ve been moving them off the farm to this house where I can be close to them and listen to their helpless whispers. I still have some room left where I can plant more mature trees in the backyard. Buying a home in a good neighbourhood with a big yard in the city and a secluded farm no one knows about, the latter of which has gifted me the freedom to feed my compulsion, were wise decisions. Although the anticipation is thrilling, I wish there was some way to hunt more often without being found out. Sometimes I have had to wait months between disposing of garbage, and I realize now that I may even have to wait years to lessen the odds of discovery.

Unless they misbehave and make me especially angry, I make it quick and place them in the truck or van, depending on how soon I’ll be able to transport the dead whore. Sometimes, I like to take my time to teach a whore a lesson she can take to hell with her. Like the time that stupid bitch had the nerve to spit in my face and ask me “what did mommy do to screw you up so bad”. I wrap them up real nice in material I use to transport the bigger trees. I place wood in with the body so that it doesn’t go limp when I carry it into the house. It must look like an object… a tree. The neighbours assume I’m bringing in something for my garden or someone else’s I plan to work on soon, and I don’t want to leave it in the vehicle or in the back until I’m ready to plant or move it again, because of exposure to the elements. So in the garage-workshop it goes. That’s what I would tell them if they asked, but they never do. The truth is that I don’t want the animals to tear into the wrap or risk being discovered. The neighbours … they wave and smile and ask me what project I’m taking on next. I wish I could just let them know I’m burying some sinning bitch … disposing of the trash. I wish I could tell them that the beauty of my work is below the earth … what they see is only camouflage. It’s the only reason I mastered landscaping. I bury the body myself and get help from a man that doesn’t make suggestions or ask questions with the tree planting. A very stupid but strong man who needs the money. He helps me get the job done with the ‘above-ground’ work. He’s the second hired helper I’ve had. I made a few mistakes at the beginning and the first one was smarter than I had thought. I had to kill him one night and throw him in the river. Of course, now, cutting the cattle up in pieces makes it so that the soil doesn’t look like a grave. I have learned to remain calm during close calls. Panic is an enemy.

Two months ago, a neighbour’s teenage son started poking around suspiciously. I had done a great deal for his mother and when I informed her that he had gone as far as to open the door to my van, she made him apologize. I smiled and said, “No harm, no foul. Teenage boys are just curious.” She thanked me for my patience and understanding. Her son, she had said, has an “intense curiosity and vivid imagination”. He had inevitably passed on a suspicion that she just could not believe. I barely managed to stop him from getting into the back and since then I make sure to check if I’ve locked the doors twice. Annoying little shit, that Angus kid, just like his mother.

Teenagers are too self-absorbed, but once in a while I cross paths with one that pays attention. There are some that see what is right in front of them, unlike their parents that go about their small lives preoccupied with the mundane.

These neighbours see what they want to see and I show them what I want in order to remain hidden in plain sight, but every once in a while there’s a close call.

Childhood is special… the veil is down in the first years. Most children are like animals. You wouldn’t think it, but it’s true. Most people think they’re naive, unintuitive, but they too have a sixth sense like animals, an instinctive quality we grow out of as adults. Or, should I say, we are the only animal that loses that quality as we become adults. Dogs growl, cats hiss. Children wail when they meet my eyes. Primitive little things aren’t they? But as they shed their primitive skin, they become monsters with masks, just like the rest of us.

We’re monsters in denial, incapable of seeing our truest forms, burying our thoughts in little tasks and tiny lives, pushing out the darkness that takes root, trying to prevent it from sprouting. I don’t push it out and I can see what human beings are. You can say that this is what makes me unique … I have the vision to see what children can but am no longer a child. And, of course, I will the root to flourish. We cannot help being what we are, so why would anyone fight it, and yet the great majority tries. Is this not insanity?

Children know there are monsters; they see me in my true form. It’s the adults that don’t live in reality, trying to convince their little runts that there’s nothing to fear. In truth, though, many of them too are monsters in denial, hiding their dark insides with the camouflage of living. Camouflage is so effective that it fools them too and allows them to believe in their own ‘goodness’. I just happen to be a monster that feels no guilt, no shame, and no regret ripping into the jugular. I am not at fault for being what I am … nor would I change it.

No one wants to acknowledge that men like me exist. When I moved here I told them how I’d lost my wife and this served me well. I wanted to be rid of her, but she was convenient at the time and it’s not as if I could kill her without a lot of work on my part. I would be the first suspect. The sympathy I received once I played her death up was my first layer of camouflage. I knew to use it to my benefit. Yes, being a married man helped me seem safe. In death, she provided me with a way to garner sympathy. The insurance money also gave me this house in a good neighbourhood, and I don’t have to work again.

I’m Mr. Bartel … or Tom, they call me. I’m a good man … just a sweet man getting a little soft in the middle. The neighbours trust me. I’ve been called on to water their plants and pick up the mail. I’ve fixed their furniture and washing machines. I’ve landscaped their inferior gardens. I’ve shared a beer with the men and tea with their wives. I’ve been a shoulder to cry on and a chest to lean into. I’m skilled, an artist, unlike the great majority of others in my craft. Of course, no one will ever know. That is the bittersweet truth of it.

Sometimes I get tempted to reveal myself to one of the neighbours now and again. I get the urge to tie one up, tell them every beautiful detail and kill them. But I know better. This would only bring me trouble. The whores need to be out of state. It’s a long drive to the farm and another into town, but this process has spared me from detection. It’s when one loses complete control of their desires and escalates in any of the many forms that he or she starts to get sloppy and is bound to become the hunted.

Every now and then I have neighbourhood socials or hold some committee planning meeting at the house. It’s a real pleasure hearing what they have to say about the private garden. It’s a slice of heaven in the ‘burbs, a morsel of majestic beauty in one’s own backyard. It’s perfectly secluded. How can something so beautiful and private exist in a home garden in town? Yes, the house is one of the best on the street, and, yes, the lot is an enormous corner lot, but my garden still remains as something completely unexpected. No one would go to the efforts I have. I want to tell them it isn’t easy, but where would I hide the bodies if not under the trees.

I pick my kills wisely. I follow each one for weeks, sometimes months to be sure. After all, each one makes up the whole. There is an energy flow to every garden and a mistake may disturb what I have worked so hard to create.

And it has truly been grueling at times. The work it took to fit in goes without saying. I got to know the neighbours very well to find out when I have privacy. There’s only two, since I have the corner lot at the very end. I hunt the night before they’re away and bring the bodies into town and into my home when I get the privacy I require. One year the Kitterages had their niece house-sit and I hadn’t been told. I had to throw a whore’s body into the river and read about it when they found it. I must admit it was all very titillating. I felt aroused by the ordeal even if I was concerned that something may lead them to me. Of course, it wasn’t as arousing as it would have been to kill their whore niece, which I briefly considered, but that would have been far too risky. I don’t need the police knocking on my door wanting to ask me questions.

I have tried to understand why I feel such a strong urge to rid the world of garbage. I see the monstrosities women are and so I am immune to their charm. Yes, we are all monsters, but they are the most powerful ones and must be thinned out in numbers. I feel about as much concern for those fools who fall for the whores, that I do for the whores whose lives I take. It feels like an irritation that can’t be scratched and so it is just there … getting more aggravated. Thinking of the nine alleviates the itch for a bit, though, until it builds back up. I suppose I could just live with it, but if I don’t partake in the thinning, I feel weak. I have tried to discover why I need to squeeze the final breath out of a pretty young tramp or some older slut, but the only thing I’ve discovered is that many of the other ‘garbage men’ are less tasteful and less selective.

I have no interest in prostitutes that are paid for their sins. There are others to judge them every day. They are already known to be the lowlifes of society and so they pose less harm. I’m after the ones with sharp teeth. I have sharper teeth. I deal with the filth that pretends to be ‘good’. When they’re older, they become cheaters, sexed up flirts who pick and choose who is worth their time. They start so early, though, putting on an act for older men, getting whatever they want, pitting young men against each other. Yes, these are dishonest whores, which make them the most dangerous kind.

Where has the evening gone? I still have a long night ahead of me. It’s time to put you away in your safe place, under that creaky floorboard. I feel satisfaction at the thought that although one day I will be old and frail, I will pull you out, my confidante, and relish every last word, and relive the hunt to arouse me back to life if only for a little while.

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