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<<<back to part two

By Wil Forbis
I was about to open Julia’s front door, and do my best to leave the building unnoticed when a knock sounded. “Jules?” a woman’s voice asked from the outer hallway. “Are you all right?”

Shit, fucking, shit, dogfuckers!   My mind screamed. Someone, a neighbor, had heard the noise. I froze in my tracks. 

“You’re not doing your dance shit now, are you Jules? At this fucking hour?” the voice continued. I remained paralyzed.

“Fine, bitch,’ the voice angrily admonished. “Ignore me at your own peril. I’m getting sick of this shit.“ The woman stomped off and a nearby door slammed.

Though the immediate threat was over I was still pretty tentative about leaving through the front door so I looked around for a more secretive means of escape. There was a skylight above me - a good thirty feet high. I briefly made a comic mental picture of myself piling all of Julia’s junk into a big tower and climbing up to the ceiling, but quickly dismissed the idea. There was a better, more obvious way. On the outside of one of Julia’s windows was the shadowed outlined of a fire escape. The window itself easily came open, and I quietly hopped out onto the rusted patio. Being careful to erase any possible evidence, I closed the window. I took one last view of the scene in the apartment. I couldn’t see Julia’s head but I knew that though she’d once been beautiful, she was no longer. It was kind of a shame.

Looking down I could see that the street below was quite deserted. I felt the exuberance rise up inside of me. I’ve done it! I thought. I can’t believe I’m going to get away with this shit. Quietly I began my descent down three stories. You think it would be difficult to clamor down a rusty metal staircase and be silent about it, but I assure you, my footwork would have made Baryshnikov jealous. When I reached the second floor, I carefully peered into the window of the corresponding apartment. It was dark, though I could see a lone candle burning on the living room table. But no one appeared to be around so I slunk past the window and headed down the next level of stairs.

“Hi.” I heard a voice suddenly say. I whirled back at the window I’d just past. There was still no one there. Below me the street was empty. Then I saw her, a large women, with black hair was poking her head out of what I would have assumed to be the kitchen window of the candle-lit apartment. She seemed to have a smile on her face though, as if she wasn’t to shocked to see a man creeping about the outside of her home.

“Uh… Hello,” I responded. I considered making a break for it. It was just one more floor and a ten-foot drop from the fire escape, and I could be home free. But I forced my nerves to steady and resolved that I had to deal with this situation… in one way or another.

“It’s a nice night,” the girl spoke again. “You can really see the stars out for once.”

Feigning interest, I looked up at the sky. The stars did seem unusually visible. “Yes, “ I replied. “Those are very nice.”

“You must be pretty cold out there slinking around. There’s a bit of a breeze going, isn’t there?” As she continued speaking, I began to notice something odd about the girl. Her voice seem to slur, and her eyes had a permanent glaze to them. At first I thought she may be drunk but then realized it was something more, almost as if she was in a trance or had some sort of mental fatigue. If so, perhaps I’d lucked out again. Someone in her state could not possibly make a very credible witness.

“A breeze… yes,” I replied and forced a shiver. “It is nippy.”

“Goodness, you’re shaking!” the girl exclaimed, leaning her head further out of her window. “You’re not going to get any warmer out there. Why don’t you come in for a bit?” Before I could respond her head disappeared from the window and I saw her shape reappear in the window that connected to the fire escape and she fumbled with the latch.

Dammit, I thought to myself. If I leave now there’s a chance she couldn’t be much of a witness against me. But if I’m wrong she could pick me out of a crowd. How well has she seen me?

It didn’t really matter because at that moment she opened the window and got a very good look at me. I might as well go in, maybe there’s still some way I can get out of this.

“Come on in,” she said. As I climbed over the sill, I got a better look at the woman. She was a large girl, maybe three hundred pounds, with long black hair and a nose ring. She was wearing a velvety long black gown and I assumed her to be part of the “goth” crowd. A thick base of white makeup made her face exceptionally pale except for her lips which were covered with a dark gloss that matched the color of her fingernail polish.

Once I was in she closed the window behind, “There you go,” she said, rubbing my shoulders. “It’s warm in here.”

“Yes, yes it is.”

“You’re still shaking”

“Oh… yeah. Well, it’s not the weather really. I’ve got a bad case of nerves.”

“Oh, I bet. Here, I’ve got something that can take care of that.” She led me over to the table with the flickering candle, and handed me a small silver pipe. Peering in the stem of the pipe I saw a gooey brown substance.

“Hash?” I asked, as I lifted the piped to my mouth and took a hit.

“Puh-leez.” the woman replied. “Hash is for teenagers. This is heroin. You wanted to lose those nerves didn’t you?”

I’d never done heroin and was generally opposed to trying it. But after you’ve just smashed in someone’s head into a pool of gore some of your reservations disappear.

Though it was not immediate, I did start to feel more relaxed. And for the first time, I noticed there was some sort of music playing low in the background. Ethereal, ghostly music. It could have been new-age, but it was too dark and haunted -  a low hum that seemed to seep through my ears straight into my brain. Nonetheless, I felt myself begin to calm down. My eyes adjusted to the darkness of the apartment and I gave it the once over. It seemed sparse, a single table with a futon style bed in a corner. Posters covered the walls but it was too dark to see them. At first I'd thought the candle was the only source of light, but off in a corner I noticed a flickering computer screen, perched on a small desk. I took another hit.

“So d id you have a good time at Julia's?” the girl asked.

Dammit, I thought. Now I’m going to have to kill you. I began to look around for any sort of weapon, a large object or perhaps a knife.

“What makes you say that?” I asked.

“Well, I mean it’s obvious really. Besides you’re not the first person to leave her place from the fire escape you know. Plenty of guys do it.”

“Hmmm, too bad,” I said. “I thought I was being pretty original.” I spied a large metal piping fixture lying loose at one end of her apartment. I began walking towards it.

“Yeah, well,” the girl continued. “I’ve never really liked Julia. She was kind of a stuck up cunt.”

“Yeah” I absentmindedly responded. With my back towards the woman, I grasped the pipe. It felt like it could knock the head of a bull. Then something struck my mind.

“What do you mean ‘was’?”

“Well, obviously she’s not much of a cunt now is she. I’m mean it be pretty hard in the shape she’s in. Or maybe she’s quite a cunt as it’s the only good part of her left.”

“What do you mean after what shape she’s in?”

“After you killed her, dummy. I saw it all over there,” She motioned to the corner with the computer. “We all saw it.”

“Brandishing the pipe, I walked over to the glowing screen There, in the center of the monitor was a still photo of Julia’s body in what looked like an ocean of blood. Beneath the photo, in small green letters, it said “Photo-cam updated every thirty seconds.” Above the photo, in a large graphical stylized font it said “”

“This… She… She’s” I growled at the girl.

“Well, sure,” She replied. “I thought you knew.”

With a single sweeping gesture I brought the metal pipe down on the computer monitor. With a loud crash, it shattered and for a brief second sparks flew about me. Hopefully this made it clear to the women, No, I did not know!

“Who watches this?” I asked. “Who's seen me?”

“Lot’s of people” the girl responded, unperturbed. “Anastasia’s of the most popular sites on the Internet. I thought that was your whole point. The first online murder. The greatest performance art ever. Isn’t that what you wanted?”

Tears welled up in my eyes. My fist clenched the pipe to the point that I thought the bones in my hand would crack. Suddenly I felt a wave a nausea swirl about me as the dark bitter taste of the beer I’d drunk came rushing up my throat onto my jacket.

“Shit…Shitfucker!” I screamed. “I’ve got to get out of here." I ran past the girl and threw open her door. I ran to the hallway and was about to descend the stairwell when I heard voices above me. Peering up from the stairwell, I could see a blue uniformed officer on the floor above me and hear the crackling of police radios. Looking down I saw two paramedics beginning to climb the staircase. From sound alone I could tell that the lobby of the building was filled with people.

I turned and spied a window at the end of the hallway. Adrenaline pumping I rushed towards it, and managed to pry it open. It was a one story drop to ground below but no police were apparent. I climb out the window, lowered myself down as far as I could and made the drop. My ankle twisted slightly when I landed and the metal pipe crashed to the ground beside me. I began to run. As I rounded the corner opposite the block I’d been on I saw that I few policemen had come into view on the street I’d just been on. But they did not appear to give chase.

I continued running for several blocks, heading out of Greenwich Village and going uptown. When I was too exhausted to run I slowed to a brisk walk. I tried to take as many empty side streets as I could, but the closer I got the hub of New York, to Times Square and the theater district, the more I came into contact with people. Finally I headed over to Broadway and tried to find anonymity in the crowds.

As I reached 39th, a police car seemed to slow down when it past me. If they stopped, I was finished; I simply didn’t have the strength to run anymore. And the heroin, the damn heroin was making me groggy, making it so hard to focus. My guts were churning, and I was afraid I would throw up again.

The police car kept going and I paused to watch a row of televisions in an electronics store. The sound was off but I could tell that some sort of late night movie was playing. I leaned up against the glass storefront and searched amid the myriad of electronic devices for something that could tell me the time. My eyes rested on a VCR clock. It was now 2:20 a.m. Then I looked back at the television.

The late night movie was no longer there. In its place was a blown up photo of my face. Though it was grainy, I realized it was a still from the photo-cam in Julia’s apartment. From the looks of things she must have had the camera mounted in the pile of video equipment I’d seen in her loft. Then, my face disappeared, and was replaced by a female news reporter discussing, judging from the caption above her head, a “Brutal Greenwich Murder.”

I looked around at the various people who were passing me on the street to see if anyone was paying attention. The passerbys seemed to take no notice, lost in the receding tide of Friday night festivities. I got myself together and moved on.

Twice more as I headed up Broadway, I thought police cars were slowing to examine me, but both times they moved on. Three more times I passed store television screens with my visage pasted on them. I thought of heading off to one of the side streets, but genuinely felt that I seemed more incognito as part of a crowd.. I had no plan as to where to go or what to do. I just knew I needed to find some place to rest, to sleep, and let the heroin run its course. If I could make my way up to Central Park and find shelter in the foliage, perhaps I could sleep. And deal with tomorrow when it arrived.

“Holy shit motherfucker, you’re the Internet murderer!” A tall black man leapt in front of me. He grabbed me by the shoulder with one hand and continued shouting. “Look at this motherfucker. He’s on that TV over there!” People walking past took notice but seemed unsure of what to do.

“No… no I’m not, I just look kind of like him,” I said, breaking the man’s grip on me and quickly started to walk away from the small growing crowd. My accuser didn’t attempt to accost me further. He simply admonished people to look at the television, as proof of his assertions of my guilt.

I hastened my pace and panic began to set in again. It seemed as if more and more people took notice of me as I walked by. I passed 45th, 47th, 50th. I didn’t have far to go to make it to the safety of Central Park. Looking behind me I saw a crowd of people a block back that had stopped and were pointing at me. I wanted to run but knew that would attract attention. Instead I maintained my brisk walk. I looked behind me once more and saw that a police car had pulled up next to the crowd. I was walking backwards now and saw the officers talk to the crowd and the car pull out into traffic again. At this I began to run. The police cruiser’s sirens came on. I had to shove passerbys out of my way but I began sprinting uptown. The police vehicle, driving parallel to me on the street easily caught up. I approached 65th and saw that the police were planning to round the corner and cut me off. I felt my lungs bursting as I ran to make the corner before them. It was a lost cause as the car rounded the corner and came to a screaming halt. I was done for.

But as the police car’s brakes screeched to a halt and they actually drove up on the sidewalk, something happened. A car, racing along 65th rammed its nose into the halted police car before me. I saw the police officer driving the car bounce his head of the steering wheel. The other officer who had been in process of exiting his vehicle in an attempt to nab me was hit by the open car door as the entire car went backwards, back onto Broadway. Was it a drunk driver? I didn’t know and didn’t stop to ask.  I leapt up and scurried over the nose of the police car. I made it to the corner of the next block and kept running, my chest heaving. I could hear sirens in the distance, but they were a ways off, I just had to make two more blocks. As I approached the crosswalk of 66th I looked back. Both police officers were incapacitated and the crowd was stunned. I turned forward again to meet the corner of 66th and Broadway. Without pausing I leapt out into the cross walk. And was immediately hit by a cross-town bus.

And that, dear friends, was how I ended up here: the illustrious cell Block D at Ryker’s Island Prison. A confine notorious for its criminal inhabitants, the worst that New York has to offer. To be honest, I feel a bit out of place here. The man restricted to the cell next to me killed three men in a bar fight and then shot a police officer trying to apprehend him. I feel outclassed.

The trial was an event in itself. I was dubbed “The Internet Killer” by the infotainment crowd, all of whom actively covered my case with a zeal they hadn’t shown since O.J. Simpson. I even got a chance to give Geraldo Riviera the finger. As bad as I am, I’ll never be as low as scum like him.

My trial went quickly. I started out pleading insanity. Two weeks into it I changed my plea to guilty, against the wishes of my lawyer. Frankly It didn’t seem worth it. And I wanted people to know the truth: I wasn’t insane. I had a bit of an anger problem perhaps, but I wasn’t insane.

I’ve often wondered exactly what Julia was doing when she had me in her apartment. I mean, it’s clear she was never interested in me -  was she simply playing with me? I suppose Julia was simply someone who lived her entire life in front of the camera and never stopped performing. During my trial, my lawyer brought in several hours of video footage of Julia’s performance, as well as some stills from her web site. By mostly concentrating on the nude stuff, I think he was trying to provide me with what might be called “the slut defense” - to insinuate that Julia had tantalized me to the point that I had no control of my actions. In truth I found her performances rather moving. Her thesis that we’re all naked in front of the camera was well made. Even more pointed was what her videos, her website, her life implied about the future. Soon, there would come a point when we’d never know if we were on camera or off. For the first time in the history of modern media, the average citizen could put themselves on camera. And by committing the first online murder I’d become something of a pioneer myself.

As a result of all this I’ve actually garnered a serious fan base among the Internet constituency, chief among them being Lorenzo. He and I keep in fairly constant contact and he’s always sending me articles about the murder. Interestingly, it’s presumed that while I was murdering Julia an estimated  twenty three thousand people were watching the act on their computers. Watching in thirty second snippets as I bludgeoned in her head with a piece of her own artwork. Frantically calling friends to join them in the spectacle.  The still shots of me bashing in her skull have been copied numerous times by computer pirates and can be found on a million sites on the net. Just do a search for something like “first online murder” and you’ll be sure to find them. Someone even pertained the entire video footage of murder and you can buy that as well. It’s got a heavy metal soundtrack by a band called “WoundFuck.” Not really my cup of tea.

With good behavior I could be out of here in about twenty-five years. But I’m not sure, when the day comes, I’ll want to go. I like it here, I like the routine. The iron bars and iron rules give my life a direction it never had. I eat when they tell me to eat, I walk when they tell me to walk. And the cells are quite warm.

Just last week Lorenzo wrote me a note containing a clipping about a talk show he’d just been on. (The theme was “I was a Serial Killer’s Best friend.” I wrote him back telling him that I wasn’t a serial killer and that he was never my best friend.) Lorenzo mentioned that he’d just found out that a great uncle of his was in the same cellblock as I. He described him to me, and I managed to pick him out of the yard and introduce myself. Though he’s not the brightest apple in the bunch he’s an amiable guy and we had a long conversation. He told me that he had raped and killed his best friend’s daughter, so I think we’ll get along great.

Just a little prison humor for you.