“Oh my God, when will you learn how to knock? Mom?”
Roy Couth made a half-hearted attempt to silence the girl in the wriggling burlap sack. Finally, he rolled her under his bed.
“What was that?”
“Huh? What happened?”
“Roy, honey, I’m just concerned about you. Your father and I were discussing you last night. We think it’s time you began to take on some responsibilities around here.”
“But I just cleaned the toilet!”
“That was six months ago. Now it’s clogged. We had to bring in a plumber and he said something about adipose tissue. I don’t know what he’s talking about, but it sounds awful.”
Roy reached for a textbook on medical pathology, opened it to the relevant page, and wordlessly handed the book to his mother.
“Oh baby, what is this? Are you interested in medicine? Maybe you could take some classes at the community college, like your cousin. She’s doing so well, studying to be a RAD tech. Your father thinks you should get some skills so you can help with the household income.”
“You know how I hate to be a nag. But it’s just…we’re having financial problems, and it’s getting harder and harder to support you. All those trips to the hardware store. You go through rope like it’s toilet paper. I don’t claim to understand why you need all the rope, or the duct tape…”
“It’s a hobby.”
“May I sit down?”
“Sure.” Roy indicated the chair in front of his desk. He remained on the bed, a stolid expression fixed on his face.
“And we hear these awful screams sometimes coming from your room. Do you have nightmares?”
“Uh huh. I have these awful nightmares. Mom, remember when you said I could be anything I wanted to be, if I just put my mind to it?”
Mrs. Couth raised her head and wiped away a stray tear. “Of course! Your father and I have always believed in you, honey. Your…your potential. Tell me what’s on your mind…please.”
“Mom, I want to be a serial killer.”
“Oh? You mean…I’m sorry, what do you mean?”
“I have these strong urges to kidnap and murder young girls.” A moan came from the sack beneath his bed.
“I thought I heard a noise. What do you have under there?” Mrs. Couth got up from the chair and down to her knees, investigating.
“Don’t touch her, Mom. I like my victims intact, before I strangle them and have sex with their corpses.”
“Ok, so…you have a rich imagination. Your father and I have always thought you could do something with that brain of yours. Write plays. Movies. Like that?”
“No. I would rather act directly on my sociopathic impulses.”
Mrs. Couth scratched her head as she got to her feet. “I still don’t understand what you’re telling me, but if you could please clean up your room, it would be a step in the right direction. It stinks like something died in here!”
“Yes, it does.”
“Well, at least we’re talking. That’s a good thing, right?”
“Mom, I appreciate your need to communicate with me, but I’ll be fine, honestly. I’m sorry about the toilet. That last one…ugh. First she wouldn’t cooperate, then I had to use the ball peen hammer, finally, the chainsaw.”
“You used your father’s chainsaw? To do what? He said the drive chain was covered with these chunks of flesh. Decomposing flesh. Oh sweetie, I’m afraid…I’m afraid for you. Maybe we should call Dr. Schwarz again.”
“There’s nothing wrong with me, Mom.” Roy sighed. “Now could you please leave me alone?”
“Okay, but if you ever need to…you know…I’m here for you, baby.”
Mrs. Couth gently closed the door. Roy locked it and rolled the bag from under his bed. “Finally! I thought she would never leave. Now it’s just you and me.”