Downstairs

Originally written Nov 2008

As I carried the young man down the stairs into the basement, I reflected silently on the many times I’d done this before.  They’d all deserved it, for one reason or another.  You can never truly know all the reasons.  The wooden banister was smooth to begin with but my frequent use had given it further polish.  Each step silent on the concrete.  I remembered the first time I’d done this.  Aaaah, my yes.  I was 18.  I remember seeing this man berating his wife in public.  Yelling at her, calling her such filthy names.  It was dreadful.  I decided I would punish him.
It was simple enough finding him.  They happened to have parked in front of me and I quickly scribbled down the license plate.  From there, it was simply a matter of studying the man.  At one point, I saw him hit his wife.  Oh yes, punishment indeed.  He had a penchant for staying late at the office.  Code for having an affair.  Always some cheap, dirty place so he could pay with cash.  She was always waiting for him but that night, he didn’t show up.  I took him before he realized what was happening.  Chloroform is a beautiful substance and he was down within moments.  He drove a big SUV with tinted windows so I tossed him in the back and drove home.  Oh how this wretched man screamed when he woke up.  Such angry yells.  I had to break his jaw.  All that yelling was giving me a terrible headache.
My latest project stirred lightly and the time for reflection was over.  I laid him on the table and went through the old routine.  Straps, tightening, making sure everything was in place (they always were, but habits are habits).  He stirred more heavily and moaned, asking, “Where am I?”  I smiled.  At least this one was quiet.
“My dear Thomas, you’ve been a rather unpleasant fellow,” I said with a small shake of my head.  “Tsk tsk, dear boy.”
Thomas was 26.  Still young, yes, but already he’d built a nasty little life for himself.  I stumbled upon him selling drugs to children.  Not teenagers, mind you, but children.  He sold them candy laced with the stuff.  That alone was enough for me.  Of course, the one thing I see is always enough.  He commenced going through the usual, groggy questions.  Who are you, where am I, what’s going on.  At least when I answered “what’s going on,” I could mix it up sometimes.
“Thomas,” I said, “you are here to be punished.  And really, I don’t think that surprises you very much, does it?  No, I expect it wouldn’t.  You’re a very unpleasant fellow, after all, with an unpleasant life and in a little while, an unpleasant face.”
“What?” he asked, quite surprised apparently.  “Who are you?  What is this?”  His voice was getting higher as panic set in.  Surprised indeed.  And on top of this, he was squirming rather wretchedly now and repeating his questions over and over again in the most pathetic voice.
I slapped him.  “Calm yourself,” I said as I rubbed my hand absently.  “Have some dignity.”
This was a rather mocking sentiment to me.  Mostly because these…people never had any dignity.  They were all such ghastly creatures.  I remember this one, a minister, who had a fondness for bestiality.  And the lawyer…well, this one in particular, who literally raped his female clients.  Repugnant.  Ghastly.  Unpleasant.
He looked at me, wild-eyed, his cheek red.  He swallowed and tried to ask once more, as calmly as he could, just why I was doing this.  I ignored him.  I always ignored this question.  They knew.  They all knew.  Such people seem to labor under the delusion that what they’re doing is just fine and oh so very pleasant.  They know, deep down.  They know that their punishment has finally come.  He asked his question once more, pleading this time.  For some reason, I decided to answer.
“You know why but very well, I’ll tell you.  The first time I saw you, you were selling drugged candy to children.  Such a ghastly deed could not go unpunished.”  I looked into his eyes as I said this so he’d understand I held no real malice.  Just a desire to correct the wrongs.  His eyes got very large.
“What are you talking about?!  I’m not a drug dealer!  I have kids of my own!  Why are you doing this?!”  I frowned.  Now I remembered why I always ignored this question.  The first few had asked it and had had the same reaction.  Shock and confusion.  Really though, they knew.  How could they not?  They were vile and wretched and would lie in the face of God himself.  Such people…
“Thomas, we both know that you’re lying.  Stop it.  I shall not have it.  Now be silent,” I said, looking down at him from the foot of the metal operating table.  I’d stripped him down to his boxer shorts before bringing him into the basement and as the air conditioning clipped on, I saw him shiver as a blast of cold air hit him.  He was breathing heavy but he remained silent, as I had told him.  Probably thinking that if he obeyed, he would survive.
I looked at the tray of tools a few feet from his head and smiled fondly at them.  My friends, my loves.  Oh, how I loved the feel of them.  I walked over to the tray and picked up a bone saw.  It was cold and smooth, just as always and I relished the feeling.  I put it down and picked up a small propane torch.  It was full.  Always full.  I always kept it freshly supplied.  Then the mallet.  The wood grained handle, soft and smooth and worn from many uses.  Hello old friend.  I lightly plopped the head into my left hand.  I looked down at the ray, setting the mallet down as well and observed my other tools.  Scalpels, forceps, a power drill with a long, thin drill bit.  And finally, at the back of the room, was a crematorium oven.
“Thomas,” I said, turning back to him, at his right side, “I’m going to give you a choice now.  Your wrongs are many but I can be merciful.  If you’ll admit your sins to me, and say your sorry, I’ll inject you with someone that will put you to sleep.  If you don’t and you keep lying, I’m going to purge these unpleasantries from you.”
Only one had ever taken this offer, instead of continuing to perpetrate their filthy lies.  She had been a whore.  I remember very clearly that at first, she tried to use her body to free herself, but when she understand that I would have no part of her, she resigned her fate.  She seemed to understand and so when I offered the choice, she sighed and took my offer of mercy.  I put her to sleep and then slid her into the fires.  They always go into the fires at the end.
He remained quiet.  Finally, he spoke up.  “Are you serious?  You are aren’t you?  You drug me, kidnap me, tie me to a table and accuse me of being a drug dealer to children and then offer to kill me quickly or torture me.  You’re insane.  You’re fucking insane.  You’re insane and this is all some horrible nightmare.”
“I assure you, I am quite sane and this is no nightmare.  Well, maybe not in a literal sense.”
“You’re insane…”
This was all he could manage to say after his little outburst.  Lies and denial, oh how I hate them.  It happens all the time.  Sometimes it depresses me.  Sometimes it makes me so very angry.  Now, it made me weary.  It was ever the same with these creatures.  I sighed and shook my head.
“Very well.  You have made your choice then.”  More mutterings of my insanity.  Such delusions.  “Let us begin, then.”  I reached for the drill, pressed the trigger to give it a test spin and listened to it whirring.  I looked down at Thomas, this drug peddler, this vile creature, with abject sincerity.  “This will hurt.  Your soul will thank me, though.”

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