You and Me
I looked into the dark eyes.
They were whirlpools of pure blackness. As if the entire darkness of
the universe, which stems out of the whitest of lights, had been compressed into tiny spheres.
You could get lost within the darkness. It seemed to call out to your soul, giving
you promises, luring you in, and then springing a surprise that would suck out the light
from your life. They were the eyes which had not just seen suffering but revelled in it.
They were the eyes of a murderer.
We should start at
the beginning. Agatha Christie once said that a mother’s love mercilessly destroyed
everything that dared to stand in its path. She said that and I felt it. I believed it.
A mother’s love was like the flitting whisper of a tree, like an earthy lisper of
wind, like a crisper version of fall. It was so selfless that you almost couldn’t
enjoy it for fear that you didn’t deserve it. And perhaps I didn’t. But I enjoyed
My mother was the most beautiful
creature on the planet. She played ball with me. She…told me not to do it. Begged.
Pleaded. Cried. Held me in my arms and refused to let go. And I should have listened. Isn’t
that what they all say? Listen to your mother or you will regret it later. The waves of
regret drowned me every day. Each lilting, frothy sound told me not to do it, but I did
I killed my mother.
Shakespeare referred to a guilty mind as filled with scorpions. I believe that too. I can
feel the scorpions of my deeds crawling over my brain, showing me the image of my dead
mother with that damned bullet hole, and stinging me with their deadly pincers. Oh, the
pain, the blood, the scent….
The scent of my
mother’s decaying body is the most horrid. I can’t get it out of mind even
though I know its imaginary. Even though I know that it is my tiresome mind playing gruesome
tricks. Even though, somewhere in my mind, I knew that it wasn’t me who was responsible
for the bullet hole. It was the person in front of me. He of the damned eyes from Hell.
I am a journalist. As with most people,
my life had changed from being a junior journalist on a crappy channel to hosting my very
own debate show on prime-time television. But one thing had remained constant. My obsession
with Juan Ramirez, the most notorious gangster in America. It was said that not a single
gun was sold in New York without one of his informants knowing. If you happened to be his
enemy, and brought a gun, he would ensure that you never got to use it. Ever.
I am not certain if obsession is strong enough a word. I lived and
breathed this person. I challenged him on national television, tore him apart on television,
and pleaded with him for an interview. One interview, where I would tear apart the
ratings like he tore apart humans. It would be the pinnacle of journalism. A macabre spectacle
for the world to see. And it would see me get that Pulitzer Prize, oh yes. I would be famous.
And I would get the answer to a question that often eludes us. What makes a criminal?
The world made me a messiah. They called me the face of journalism.
They bellowed as I hollered at the camera. They saluted my bravery. They slobbered at my
feet. Together we dared Juan to respond. He had to respond. Criminals worked on
vanity. More than the crime, it was the power that intoxicated them. How could Juan not
Juan responded by having
my mother shot.
“W-What makes a killer, J-Juan?” I couldn’t recognize
my own voice. The eyes. Those dark orbs seemed to be reaching out inside of me and raking
away bits of my soul. My hand trembled as I held the tape recorder, aware that I was making
a fool of myself in front of all the people watching this live debacle. I cleared my throat,
mostly to calm the vicious medley of murderous rage and fear engulfing me.
with a touch of romance”, Juan said chuckling. He was lounging on the chair facing
me. Without a care in the world. Mirroring me and my every move. There was a reason behind
this. Oh, there was a reason behind everything this vile person did. “For me…
no”, he suddenly sat up, and subconsciously, I did too. “No…no. Not like
I don’t know how it
happened, but I was suddenly holding a revolver. An ugly piece of metal that bore the obnoxious
arrogance of one who was accustomed to playing God.
would do anything for the ratings,” Juan said, giggling pathetically. He looked
positively demented. “So, let’s play. Bet your viewers, who were clamouring
for this interview, would love that.”
what?” My mouth had gone dry.
“A cute little game,” Juan smiled. “Russian roulette.”
He waved an identical gun mockingly at me. “After every question, we will take a
shot at ourselves.”
it would be,” Juan cooed. “You slobbered at my feet for this interview. Now,
we do things my way, or your dear audience will see you for the nasty coward you
“At least, I am not
a killer,” I said. But I didn’t feel an ounce of that bravado.
will see about that,” Juan said. “You will play, or I will shoot you. That
would do a number on the ratings.”
can’t do that.” Even as I said it, I knew it was crazy. Since the past ten
years, the police had not been able to catch this guy. I was sitting in an unknown location.
Of course, he could shoot me. I would be as dead as my rotting mother.
smiled, pointing the gun menacingly. He was aware of what I was thinking. He leaned
forward, and I found myself mimicking him. “God decides who becomes a criminal. So,
why don’t we let him decide which one of us nasty criminals gets to live?”
“I am not a criminal.” I watched as his finger flirted with
the trigger and closed my eyes, groaning in fear, and gripping the gun through sweating
Juan laughed eerily again. He brought his gun and placed it on his head.
watched not just him but also myself in horror. It was as if my soul had abandoned ship
and was now watching me raise the forsaken piece of metal to my head.
chuckled. “Now we can move on to your first question in peace. A killer is made by
circumstance. We are all killers. Some of us are just lucky enough to be given the catalyst
I was still breathing heavily,
unsure of what had happened. Sweat coated my forehead, and my heart rammed its head on
my rib cage. “Lucky,” I managed to say.
Nature works on killing. From the lurking lion to the stalking snake, they all embrace
their true nature. Why is it wrong when a human does the same? Killers embrace the instinct
granted to them by God himself. Killing,” he giggled pathetically, “is sacred.
And the biggest irony of it all is how people call us madmen. We, madmen, are the sanest
of them all.”
“Disgusting. Not all
of us are killers.”
“Ah, but you are.”
My breath hitched. “I am not.”
“You are a mass murderer. I kill mortal bodies, while you
kill spirits. You don’t think your media trials, based on no evidence, is murder?”
I ignored the nonsensical critique. “Not a gun is sold in
New York without you knowing. You have allegedly committed close to a hundred murders.
How does such darkness reside within a human?”
“You are forgetting something.”
It was easier this time. And that was scarier. Knowing you would die
someday is horrid, but making peace with the fact that might happen in the next few minutes
is truly vile. And it was easier for Juan, no doubt. It was obvious that his gun was empty.
He would take great pleasure in making me shoot myself on camera.
because it finds a shelter in human beings. And what is darkness? It emerges from the light,
and what you call darkness, I call light.”
people is your light?”
myself is my light. Killing my mother, who wouldn’t let me drop out of school to
become an actor, is light. Killing those who wanted me to fit in is light. Killing…is
“You killed your own
mother!” I exclaimed horrified.
“You see, we are
the same,” Juan was sitting exactly like me. That was how he messed with people’s
minds. And he had begun once again. “You and me. There is no difference.”
“There is a world of difference,” I cried.
“There is no one who is white in this world. There is a killer
inside everyone. What matters is if you are brave enough to embrace it. I did. And so did
I screamed, finally having enough. “I DID NOT KILL MY MOTHER. YOU DID.” Tears
burst out of my eyelids. “I can still see her b-body. Still smell it decaying. You
okay,” Juan whispered soothingly. “True
courage does not involve throwing accusations on television against defenceless people.
It lies in embracing yourself. You shot your mother.”
“Why?” I asked tiredly. My head hurt. I wished the gun had
discharged. “Why would I do that?”
“Not a gun is sold
in New York without me knowing,” Juan said, giggling again. “You said that. You
knew that. You brought a gun because you thought I would notice. Your mom tried to stop
you. So, you killed her because you knew then I would absolutely notice. All for
a measly interview.”
“You are mad. What
do you see when you look into a mirror?” This time I didn’t hesitate. I wished
for it to fire. Wished for the tender arms of death.
“Do you look into the mirror?” Juan asked.
I whispered weakly. “The mirror speaks. It shows me my dreams.”
“Exactly. The mirror
shows us not just as we are but as we would want to be. It speaks. It shows. Sometimes
our dreams and sometimes our nightmares.” He leaned forwards. “Don’t
worry. It gets easier.”
“The first murder is the toughest. After that, it’s
just a joyful ride.”
had bipolar and schizophrenia. On top of multiple illnesses. If killing her served me,
it’s what she would have wanted.”
laughed the loudest he had till then. He choked on his own saliva and coughed, his body
curling up despicably on the sofa.
I couldn’t take it
anymore. I shot him. He was right. It did get easier the second time.
My phone rang.
“Yes,” I said picking up.
“You wanted to know what makes a killer,” a voice said.
“I am ready to give that interview.”
need to,” I whispered. I looked at the shards
of broken glass, and the bullet hole inside the mirror. “I know.”
The smell. It was suffocating me. I would have to open the damned
windows. But before that, there was still one last round of Russian roulette to be played.
Arnaav Bellani is a third-year
engineering student at the University of Toronto, with a keen interest in
writing short stories, poems and novels. His stories have been published in 101
Words magazine and Corner Bar Magazine.