A Very Scary Man
The first time the scary man realized that he liked to frighten people was when he was twelve years old. His little sister was his favorite victim because she was only six and small for her age. Late one night, he sneaked into the room where Mandy was sleeping so peacefully, snoring with little whiffs and snorts because of her allergies, and all snuggled up under the covers with her pink stuffed Easter bunny and her three favorite Barbie dolls. Earlier that day, he had waded through the brush lining the bayou until he finally caught a tiny black garter snake. So, now, at last, it was show time.
Grinning, trying not to laugh with anticipation, he opened up the white Kroger's plastic sack and dumped the wriggling little reptile onto Mandy's pink Cinderella pillow. He let out a loud hissing sound so she'd wake up, and then he took off for the doorway. But the snake had already slithered onto her and stopped right on top of her chest. He paused in the hall and waited with tingling nerves. Her
night light was on beside her bed, and when she sat up, all flushed and sweet with sleep, she immediately laid eyes on the snake wriggling around on her blanket. The little girl let out a shriek like he just couldn't believe. She probably wet her pants, too, he thought, racing back to his own room, ready to put on the best acting job of his life.
The greatest lesson he learned that night was that if he was very careful and planned ahead, he could escape punishment for something truly horrible that he'd done. So, he was back in his own bed in his own room when his parents came rushing down the hall to see what was wrong with their little darling. He got up again, feigning sleepiness and concern like the little angel he wasn't, but he was laughing so hard inside when he remembered the absolute terror on his sister's face.
Unfortunately, he thought it best to go back to bed and pretend disinterest in Mandy's drama. So he had to miss all the screaming and sobbing and hysterics, not to mention his dad's frantic and comedic efforts to catch the harmless little snake. Truth was, of course, he really didn't want to hurt his baby sister. He loved Mandy a lot; she was just the most precious little thing in the world. But he loved to see the utter fear on her face even better, and that was the Gospel truth. He loved mind-boggling distress contorting anybody's face, actually. As long as they were absolutely terrified and showed it, it was good for him.
Keenly disappointed that he had been robbed of seeing the hourlong ordeal of rocking her back to sleep, he vowed that someday he wouldn't have to hide his secret obsession. Someday, somewhere, he would find someone that he could torment for his pleasure and never have to miss a single tear or shriek or scrambling flight away from perceived mortal danger. He would plan and plan and plan some more, until he could enjoy himself with no fear of capture or punishment or retribution or grounding. Yeah, and that day was gonna be so sweet. Oh, yeah. He could hardly wait.
And that day came a lot sooner than he expected, right after his Aunt Pamela and Uncle Stanley came to visit for the weekend, because they brought along their tiny little baby boy, Donnie, who was only eighteen months old. So the good thing about that was that the baby couldn't talk yet. Not a damn word, except for babbling for his mama and dada. Yep, he was the perfect little victim with his red curly hair and big blue eyes and chubby little cherub's face. His mommy and daddy loved him so much that they doted on him incessantly, snuggling him and spoiling him and kissing him and hugging him, as if he were the greatest kid ever born. Yeah, it was little Donnie this and little Donnie that and little wonderful Donnie, blah, blah, blah. It was downright disgusting.
Hell, his own parents had never treated him like he was their darling little angel. Of course, he wasn't an angel. He was a devil, really, and proud of it, or maybe he was more like the murderous demons he saw in scary movies. He had never killed anybody or driven anyone nuts, not yet anyway, but he didn't really consider that to be out of the question someday in the future. Not little Donnie, though, not right now. He was way too little and sweet and innocent to kill, and he was his cousin, after all.
When the adults decided they wanted to go out for dinner and dancing at the country club, he was elated and quickly offered to babysit the two little kids. His mom and dad and aunt and uncle thought that he was just so loving and kindhearted to offer, which gave him a really big edge on having two little victims to torment, not to mention how he laughed inside his head at how stupid grownups were. For obvious reasons, his sister begged to go along with the adults, but they wouldn't let her, of course. But she wouldn't tell on him; he had put the fear of God into her about tattling a long time ago. So, instead, Mandy ran upstairs as soon as their parents left and found a hiding place under her bed where he couldn't get at her without poking her out with a broom handle. He didn't care. He had somebody even better that he could make cry.
Angelic little Donnie didn't mind being left alone with him, not at all. In fact, he ran over to him and held up his sturdy little arms as if he wanted to be held. So he picked the toddler up and swung him around and made him giggle with joy. But then, within moments, he felt
, the one he just could not resist or control anymore. Laughing, too, he tossed the little boy way up into the air and suddenly screamed up at him like some kind of a crazy banshee. For a second, the little kid just looked startled, but then he puckered up and began to wail. The scary man caught his baby cousin and cuddled him and rocked him until he stopped crying and was content again.
Once the child was calm, he put little Donnie down and left the room to get something to eat. When he came back, the little kid was playing with a toy that had holes where you inserted colorful little balls to play music. He sneaked up behind the toddler and yelled
as loud as he could. The baby went completely rigid and then screamed so shrilly that the boy almost had to put his hands over his ears.
“Hey, now, it's okay, little sweetie pie. I didn't mean to scare you, shh, little guy,” he crooned, scooping up the child and sitting down in the rocker by the fireplace. The baby settled down quickly; he guessed Donnie felt safe again. So he rocked the little tyke, who was really awfully adorable most of the time. But there was just something in the look in people's eyes when he scared them that he got off on. It was like they just froze into a statue for a few seconds, rigid and stiff and shocked, and then their brain shrieked out, “Hey, kid, run, run, get outta here fast!”
Oh, yes, he had plenty of that
, like the lawyers on television shows always said. He liked lawyer shows, and he was smart, too, just like those lawyers. Straight A's in every subject. Maybe he'd become a lawyer someday. Still, that particular phrase intrigued him; it rolled off his tongue somehow and made him feel good. He looked up the definition in the dictionary, just to make sure it was apropos, and there it was, laid out for him in black and white.
Malice aforethought: a general evil and depraved state of mind in which the person is unconcerned for the lives and well-being of others.
Okay, that's exactly what he had, that evil and depraved state of mind. Maybe he should call himself Malice Aforethought, or just Malice for short, give himself a name like the villains who battled the superheroes in the comics. Because that's what he came after people with, pure malice in his heart and mind and soul. Maybe he would call himself that, just for fun, and thus, his new moniker was born.
Malice grinned, thinking about the exact moment when his victims knew they were in trouble, right before they screamed or took off running or wept real live wet-to-the-touch tears. That's when that strange sense of joy erupted deep inside his gut. It was some kind of release, almost. Satisfaction, that's what it was. A burst of great personal gratification. He wondered if that were normal behavior, or if he might be a really bad person, or some kind of psycho, even. Then he decided he didn't care if he was or not, that it felt good and he was going to do it, whenever he knew he wouldn't get caught.
Yeah, he could even make it his hobby all right, just something to pass the time. He could gather scary things to use on people and figure out what kind of things gave people the creeps and watch murderers in movies and read gory books until he had his talents honed down to sublime perfection. Smiling to himself, he rocked little Donnie to sleep and then he laid the tiny boy gently in his portable crib and went to look for Mandy. After all, she was his favorite victim, and even more important, she was way too afraid to tell on him.