I killed my mother when she was twenty-eight.

Let’s go into details, shall we? I used as a weapon a simple kitchen knife; it punctured her left lung somewhere very near her heart and I probably stopped weighing on the blade when I saw blood pouring out of her mouth. Time of crime: bosom of night. For further information, please refer to autopsy report.

My mother, mind you. She must have been a sight when they found her: this nice naked body sprawled across the bed, blood all over the sheets, and a five-year-old boy asleep against her cold flank, one hand on the knife handle protruding from her torso as if it were a breast —and he her long-loved lover. And thus I was born twice on that night, although I wouldn’t know it until today.

 

Believe it or not: at this stage of the tale I honestly don’t remember a thing. All this I gathered recently from newspapers, on the very day they let me out of the lousy jail I’ve lived in for over thirteen years. On the same occasion I learned that the whole planet still hated me for having committed a thirteen-year-old crime I had been unaware of until then. I also learned my name, the real one, and was urged to blot it out straight away. Life is a mess, and mine is a dump. So now I am some form of undisputed plague —there is no cure for me. Still, I have my doubts about the whole affair. I guess I was not quite ripe for this particular accusation. I’ve always thought everything in life was possible, especially on the nasty side of it. Except I probably didn’t think nasty enough, which, coming from one of my kind, is rather surprising.

 

What should be known before anything more is told, is that my mother was someone. Not someone you can come across some rainy day on the street and immediately forget about, not someone you talk to in an elevator and erase of your memory as soon as you’re out, not someone in your cheap, standard, trivial life. She was someone higher than you. She was above all things and beings. As God would be if he were a woman, or if he were at all.

My mum was an actress, though not any actress either: There never was anybody as good as she, you can trust me on that. She could play any part and still be convincing. She was beautiful, too. She was every man’s dream and all women’s potential best friend. She was a nice and gentle person, and when she wasn’t playing in some movie, she worked in associations for homeless persons or whatever charity community she could find, and that made her all the more loveable. She had a husband and they say she never cheated on him, though she must have been proposed more than once, and a little boy who inherited her good looks and ravishing manners, and whom she loved more than life itself if that means anything. She must have been God, after all.

So say: who could have thought this cute kiddo, meaning myself, would slaughter her at the tender age of five?

 

Well, not me, I can assure you. Not anybody in the world and all the roaring space around. And yet, here I am, struggling to figure out the whole plot.

 

Now if the truth be told, I actually remember nothing of my mother, nor do I recall the toddler I was then. It seems I drew a perfect blank on my first five years. Does it mean I did it? Is it some kind of intimate proof that I killed my mother? This is something I can’t fathom: how could I do it? Take my mother’s life? The man I am now is rebuked by the little boy I have allegedly been, despite this experience of mine that makes me anything but a gentleman.

 

Because of what I supposedly did, from age six on I was brought up apart from life. I was taken to hell to join a flock of delinquent brats all calling for mommy while sleeping. Most of them were violent kids to whom theft, destruction and brutality had become such a lifestyle that nobody in the real world was willing to take charge anymore. The rest of us were one-off criminals, including a couple of murderers. As for me, I was told I had kicked kids my age hard enough to break their arms and legs. This was an admissible enough story for us all, so I swallowed it up just like anyone else, never suspecting they could lie on that one and, even so, to what purpose. Strangely, I remember having bouts of fury when told, over and over, how naughty I had been, and how they had to make me pay for it until I was fit to be released. If only I would express regret. That was a persuasive word in their mouth, regret. But, unlike many other kids, I have always had that misplaced feeling that there was nothing to regret.

 

Just by their attitude, our keepers at the House made it impossible for us to ever recover from our disgrace. Each time they looked at us, or addressed us, stigmata would sort of appear on our foreheads, red-hot burning crosses reminding us and each other that we were oh so bad. Crosses that would have to be born forever. Even time was not on our side, as forgetfulness was a blessing accessible only to people in the outside world. They, in the long run, would come to black us out whereas we, we hateful stock, would never unlearn how despicable we were and, when let out, would continue to act as such.

Evidently, I do not consider myself an innocent lamb: there in the House I’ve seen scenes and done things which could make you shiver with disgust. I take no pride in it; it is just a matter of fact: as I have said before, this place I’ve grown in hosts no nicey-nicey boys. We’re all trash, stealing, lying, fighting and sneaking. The exact opposite of what we’re meant, and taught, to do. For want of real educational purposes, this place has become our own little jungle, our violence slightly less heavy than that of our keepers. We’re a horde of snotty thugs, and we’ll be going out one day, so watch your steps, all of you — and don’t look back.

By the way, there are yet some milestones here, just like anywhere else, icons or whatever you call them. A mother is one of those values. Thou shalt not speak evil of a Mother, nor wilt thou hurt a Mother on purpose. Doing such things would be the best way to have your throat cut and your guts ripped out of your belly, and then to hell with it. In other words, killing one’s own mother is properly unthinkable, even for the likes of us. Hypocritical as it may seem. Now you see why the real cause of my custody was kept confidential —and why it lasted so long I thought I would die there.

 

Thus today has come as a surprise. Not sure if it was a good one: the Housemaster has called me in his office and broken the news, saying I was to leave the House now. He’s a big man with huge fists he knows how to use, a dark, mean brute with a low, grumbling voice. The devil in person, except he thinks he’s acting for the good of manhood, excluding us of it.

 

- Well, we sure hope thirteen years with us were enough to make you think twice before committing murder again.

I start.

- What are you talking about? I just beat off some other boys. Badly enough, I reckon they say. But as far as I know nobody’s dead. Or maybe there’s something else I should know?

- Indeed there is. Listen, my lad, we didn’t tell anyone because you wouldn’t have survived two hours here. Now you’re going out, and you will learn the truth anyway.

Will he ever spit it out? What the fuck is he talking about? Abuses come close to pouring out of my mouth, but then he starts speaking again :

- You killed your mother.

He says this matter-of-factly and I feel so weak I’m suddenly just strong enough to babble:

- Me? No…no, not me, did nothing of the sort …

- At age five. With a knife, the type you find in kitchen drawers, though evidently not the butter sort.

I’m sitting on a chair but I’d rather be lying down, I think I’m gonna faint. First time in my life, didn’t think it could happen to me, I’m a tough sort of guy, and pretty mean, too. While I’m trying to convince myself that passing out is strictly out of the question, all goes dark and then the Master is beside me, shaking my head as if it were his own.

- You OK now?

- Fucking liar”, I roar painfully while trying to stand up, and I know he could break my ribs for those words, so I duck my head as I finish my sentence, preparing to fight the pain and the anguish to strike back.

But he doesn’t even slap me. Now he’s rummaging in a file cabinet and then shoving something under my nose. Some newspapers. Old ones, as far as I can see. With pictures. Me as a little boy, freckled, round-faced, round-eyed, I’m so cute, and a girl looking not much older than I am now, a beautiful one, smiling here, and dead there.

- You are to work in a public library now, in Dixon, that’s about fifty miles away so you won’t get homesick. Which means we’ll keep a loving eye on you. Here are your ID, a train ticket, some notes and coins, everything you’ll need to kind of start a proper life. They won’t know about your mother and believe me, you’d better keep it a secret until you die. Unless you’d like to die young, that is; which is something you should maybe consider. Of course you should also keep your real name for yourself, same reasons. You’ll have to check once a month by Dixon’s police station. Now you can go. Pack off and leave.”

I finally stand up.

- It’s not me”, I say. I’m whining.

He lifts his eyebrows.

- I didn’t do it”, I add with a firmer voice.

- Do what?” His tone is lazy, as if speaking the words to himself and not listening to them.

- Kill her, you know. Someone else must have.” I’m trying to convince him, of all people. I hate him as much as he despises me.

He sighs, and I can smell the usual disgust in his breath.

- Why, sure. You’re right. None of the boys here is guilty of what they’ve been charged of. Don’t tell me I’ve haven’t heard this before. So now, be the good guy you’ve always been and beat it. Goodbye, Killian. Adieu. Hope we never meet again.”

Killian. So that’s me: Killian O’shea. It’s written there, on the newspapers: World Mourns For Famous Actress Maureen O’shea, Stabbed To Death By Five-year Old Son Killian. Killian the killer. Motherkiller. That’s me. Nice name, until that minute I had been a John Smith. And it seemed I would have to be that again.

I fold the paper, turn around and leave the Master’s office under escort. I calmly walk down the corridor, enter the lavatory with my sluggish bodyguard and throw up. Then we go to the dormitory, he locks the gate and I open my locker to pack my things, meaning a huge paper bag with handles, they gave it to me at the warehouse. It is so thin it can’t last long. But maybe I won’t, either, so it’s as good a piece of luggage as a Vuitton suitcase, I guess.

As I stuff my rare belongings into the bag, I try to conceal the drama behind the facts. I’m going out. Freedom. And a library is not such a bad choice for me, I’ve been into books for so long. I’ve heard of worst positions, once they let a guy go all the way to Liverpool so he could sort out the garbage. Nice ways to get reacquainted with life as you know it.

 

- I’m gonna miss your ass.”

Someone behind me is hissing in my ear while hands are on my hips, slowly descending to my bottom. That’s Black Andrew, one of my claimed lovers —a lover being here less than a friend, and a friend being nothing at all. I lift an elbow and punch him in the nose. Strong blow, but someone has to pay for all my suffering.

- Won’t be missing yours. You stink, Blacky.”

Although he’s bleeding, he knows better than starting a brawl with me: I may be a bookworm but that doesn’t make a sissy out of me, moreover his nose might not even be broken, so what the hell? Black Andrew, wiping snout with sleeve, tells me he saw a couple of boys crying over there. Over me. I laugh at the ludicrousness of it. “Well, you kiss them a real sweet goodbye for me”, I say, “that should do the trick”. This paper bag is much too big, there are so few items I want to take with me. I leave some clothes behind, a dozen porn magazines and a half-eaten cheese sandwich.

“You can have them all, Blacky”, I say. “Up yours.” And as I move away I hear him sniffing noisily, he’s cursing as well, face probably smeared with tears as much as blood, I know my boy, he’s the real weak breed. As for me, I hold the walls, I’ve been here for so long.

I hope they fall down when we part.

 

 

And suddenly I’m out. Back to a life I completely forgot. Possibly because, anyhow, I never knew it.

 

Took the train, to Dixon. I don’t remember my walk to the station, my mind was way too full, there was chaos in there, brought about by both my inexperience of a normal situation —walking outside, unaccompanied— and this recurring thought of my new self: so I’m a murderer. Well, I could live with that, there’s always a good reason to murder someone, especially when you’re five, not very well-behaved yet. But killing one’s mother is an entirely different matter, one I am unable to cope with. So in the train I try to shake it off: the world is wrong, I did not do it, full stop. That lifts a momentary weight off me and I can feel my head clearing, now there’s just the ebb and flow of context information to deal with, faces of travellers, the colours of their clothes, the fabric on the seats, mixed sounds and smells, the disrupting lull of the train, I don’t know if I like to be lost that much. But at least it prevents that question from obsessing me: did I do it? No, no, no, hisses the train repeatedly, as if for sure.

…But say, what if I did?

 

Dixon. Middle-sized town, little people, I’m not paying attention to them and happily let them ignore me. At the library, surprisingly enough, they show no reluctance, no fear of the untame beast I’m supposed to be. They take good care of me and talk about the things I’m supposed to do, picking up books and bringing them back where they belong, I hardly listen to them, I’m dizzy from all the change, shy from the crowd, however small it is. One of the female librarians, heavy and kind, takes me away to my room, low rent and low comfort, a couple of street blocks away. My bed is right under the roof, and damn near paradise: I’m out; nobody’s yelling, nobody’s fighting, nobody’s commanding, nobody’s even speaking to me. I am alone at last. This must be life, after all.

If only I didn’t suspect myself of butchering my mum.

 

Working in a public library is a real nice routine. People always talking softly.  Walking on tiptoe as if there were babies asleep around every corner. After all the fuss in the House, it soothes and amuses me. They usually don’t see me, some of them even smile through me. I don’t care, I’m not sure I want to have an existence again, I wouldn’t know which one. Being some sort of apprentice librarian myself, I can borrow any book I like, read papers, watch movies. I found a video record of the event: Maureen O’shea, a star is dead. Interviews of her agent, of co-starring actors, of weeping directors and the works. They recorded her funerals. People crying everywhere over her dead absent body, some even screaming, trying to jump down into the grave where they’ve just put in the coffin. A frail old woman, face streaked with tears, voice creaky : “Now me, I could kill him with my bare hands, the bloody kid, that monster …” Well no doubt it’s me she’s talking about. Antichrist, I hear her say. What a shame.

 

I’ve borrowed a VCR and rented a dozen video tapes, all of them featuring wonderful Maureen O’shea. I’ve spent nights watching those movies, some were so bad they made me laugh and cry at the same time. But my mother, oh no, she was never bad. She could play the worse parts with wit and talent, she stood out and remained loveable, I cannot imagine how anybody could ever retain life from such an angel. No human could, for sure, especially if it were his mother.

I need to know. The ruthless truth. Did I do it or what? How destructive can it be to discover, one day, that the guilt one has felt all his life is eventually not his own, and that he should endure it all over again, umpteenth times harder, keeping in mind the fact that he may never recover from this discovery?

 I guess there’s something missing in my brain. Memories, feelings. They were blown away, somehow. They were quoted out. Not knowing how to retrieve them, I go through all sorts of humdrum experiences to try and bridge the gaps. Drinking won’t help, moreover I can’t stand the hangover. Smoking pot costs me my ass and makes me want to jump off every bridge in the town. Sex makes me feel like an asshole. So I suppose addictions won’t cure my affliction.

 

My mother. My love. Mother. Mom. Mommy. Each time I am alone I speak every name she must have had. She’s everything to me, haunting my daydreams, her picture-like face always so cherubic, green eyes gleaming, cherry lips pursing to kiss my little boy’s cheek, soft arms around me as she lifts me against her for one more photography, sometimes I even remember her smell, it is one of flowers not yet cut, something I cannot know.

And suddenly I’m there, on this bank in a suburb park, mouth open, I must have been drooling since my hands are so wet, for no I’m not crying, how could I?

I’m dying. To know. And yet I’d better be dead than know. Torture. You know.

 

 

There’s just one thing left for me: to go for my father. He existed once, he helped expulsing me in this parody of a world, he used to live with us, so he must know. Who killed her. If I did.

Surprisingly enough, I don’t have to go to further extents than fingering through some phone books. He’s not hiding. I guess no one ever really cared for him, poor guy. He answers my call on the first ring, as if he had been sitting next to the phone and waiting. What he says next proves me right. I tell him who I am, refraining from calling him anything, not Sir, not Mister, not Dad. Just talking, you know, he could be anyone, actually he’d better be, I need a dear departed mommy not a living dad. He says he knew I’d been let out. Says he was sure I would contact him. He was waiting for my call as if it were the last. Those are his words, “as if it were the last”. How romantic of him. How stupid of me to be so moved.

 

We met in a pub next to the library, I didn’t want to see his home and he didn’t insist much to have me there either.

It had been raining dicks and balls that day, and I was so soaked and dripping by the time I got to the pub that I almost feared they wouldn’t let me in. Stupid thought. I guess I was just afraid to meet my dad again.

My father is an old thin guy with a white mane and dark spots on his cheeks and hands. He has long gone to the wrong side of age, doesn’t think much of life, he just lacks the courage to take his leave. He’s completely a new person to me but, against all odds, the man knows me at first sight.

“Killian, he says in an exhausted sort of tone as he sits down on a high chair at the counter, so you got out after all.” He hasn’t seen my face yet, I’ve been hiding it between my hands, I tend to do that a lot, lately. His voice is soft and tired. Thirteen years after. OK, father, now you tell me who I am. And while you’re at it, put some details about my mother too.

 

He told me everything, at once, as if he were eager to confide in someone after all this time. Me of all persons.  He’d been lonely, you could say that. He talked so long my back and legs ached when he shut off at last, and my mind, which had been stiff from all the longing to know the truth, suddenly expanded out of my head and into the gloomy pub, it exploded there, leaving invisible pieces on every wall.

My father’s monotonous speech called for unwelcome memories. A dark childhood within a golden fence. Well, as he said, the closet looked fine when viewed from the outside, but it was all stale and rotten inside. Nobody knew, except us.

 

I remember, now. Fragments, here and there.

I was a child asking for a child’s life, one with kindness and love, in all simplicity.

But —the truth holds in few words— she just did not want me.

When the journalists, through some anonymous indiscretion, spilt the news about my mother’s pregnancy, the world unanimously marvelled and rejoiced, and she could hardly get the abortion she dreamt about. Every living journalist was on her after that, she could not leave her house without being harassed. I was the most unwanted child and simultaneously the most expected one.

So she had me.

Evidently she must have done little to preserve me while I was in her womb. Maybe she let herself fall down the stairs a couple of times, just in case it might help getting rid of me without being suspected of wrongful thoughts. And in fact I’ve found magazines where they mention this accident and that incident. Ecchymoses and a broken ankle. But to no avail, not to her anyway.

And so I was born.

 

Her image, that wonderful image of a beautiful, talented and golden-hearted young woman, lived long after she was dead. An image so strong that it couldn’t be questioned, ever.

Her husband, my father, as I had suspected, never really existed. He could do nothing for me. He told me he tried. Tried to try and tried and failed. Oh yes, poor guy. Deserves nothing than depiction. Feed him to the rats when he’s done with life and all this guiltiness.

But thanks to him, at least I remember.

I remember her death, my hand around the knife handle, my rage around me, devastating, killing. And it’s killing me still, still I have those visions, visions of her with eyes wide open, open visions of her mouth babbling for pity. The pity she would never grant me. Autopsy report was true, I really stopped weighing on the blade when I saw the first blood, heard her last breath. Knew everything was over for ever.

It took her by surprise, she was sleeping when I did it, and this time she was unable to use her hands, her strong hands against me, those hands that broke a wrist once, hands that left bruises all over me, cuts as well, deep ones, never on my face though, only where they would not show, yet she cut my mind in two. She was a very careful, secretive, obliging woman. But not this time, oh no I would not let her.

 

Last thing I did before I fell asleep was kiss her. I let my lips melt on her face, I couldn’t stop kissing her skin, I hugged her body, wanting her to hold me back, longing for her motherly embrace. I kissed her mouth, licking the blood, stupidly thinking it tasted somewhat different than mine.

This time she let me. She couldn’t help.

So now I remember, yes father, thanks for reminding me. I’m guilty too, and it doesn’t feel so bad after all. And I know I would do it again if she were alive today, yes I would kill her again, not because she hurt me so much but simply because she would not let me love her and refused to love me. Why, did she even try? I would do it all again just to be able, for once in my life, to hold her and feel her warm, soft skin against mine before death cools it.

And now, amen, though it doesn’t mean a thing to me. Whatever my name may be, now I know who I am: a motherkiller. And I wish it could be serial.


MIDNIGHT CRASH ON A SUNNY MOON