Time is a Killer

Prompt Day #247: Dramatize the methods of a “slow” serial killer.

I really didn’t know what “slow” was implying when I read this prompt. That’s why I’ve been avoiding it. I finally had to make a decision and run with it. But then Ed Green came along and said there would be no running with anything. And he had his own ideas and reasons for killing. I don’t know that I agree with him, but I guess I understand him.

Time is a Killer


“I’m so sorry, Mr. Green. You have at most six months, I’d say.”

The words echoed in his head as he nodded understanding, walked out of the office without stopping to pay his bill or make another appointment. The played on the loop as he drove to the pub and made small talk with Bill just as he had for the last fifty some years after they both returned from a war nobody won.

At 72, he’d lived a long life. Some of it good and some bad. The bad he had always managed to keep at bay. The war for instance was a bad time but even worse than that, the coming home to “friendly soil” that turned in to the biggest booby trap so far. Making a life out the remains left behind after his own country did to him what six years of war could not.

Now, as Bill rattled on about the cost of Obamacare and his knee replacement, Ed Green opened the flood gates in his mind and let wash everything else away. He deserved to die quietly in his sleep. That was what you were supposed to get when you survived until the end of the game. The least you could ask for after a life of pain, misery and loss. Instead, he was being rewarded for toughing it out with unimaginable pain and suffering. He and his few remaining loved ones would watch as he shriveled away, stripped of every possible joy that could be found in the life of an elderly man with one arm and a leg full of shrapnel.

No. They would not. There would be no more suffering at least not for Ed or his family.

“So, you hear about Carl, then?” Bill asked, wincing with pain as his arthritis-crippled hands tried to dry out a pilsner glass. “Sad, isn’t it? Guess we all got an expiration date, though.” He shook his head. Ed looked up from his thoughts.

“What about Carl?”

“Stroke. They say he can’t speak, can’t move. Just a vegetable now.” Bill carefully put the glass upside down on the shelf behind the bar and walked away.

“This is bullshit” Ed mumbled. He threw a ten on the counter, picked up his cane and limped out.

He drove home slowly; fifteen rather than his usual ten miles per hour under the limit letting his anger grow into rage. He deserved a good death. Carl deserved a good death; so did Bill for that matter. Meanwhile there were people out there who judged and hated and did nothing for humanity and they were lying in comfortable homes, dying in their sleep. Bullshit. The weight of his prosthesis pressed into his lap. Suddenly he needed to take it off. Pulling in to the ACE Hardware by his home, he parked the car and unhooked the appliance. The rod protruding from the center of his stump was flipping him the bird. Just try to be normal with me forever attached to your bone, reminding you of something missing, something sacrificed for nothing. I’m your survival trophy. You know what survival really means, Ed? It means you lived to die in a different way. That’s all it means. Bravo, Buddy.

This rod was a recent addition, surgically inserted into his bone to better fit the newest and most technologically advanced prosthesis the good ol’ US of A’s money would buy. And there it was, permanently part of him. Without thinking further, he headed into the store and purchased a heavy metal file.

He began to file it away when he stopped, changed course and began to file in a different direction. Soon the rod was a sharp metal spike protruding like some futuristic cyborg weapon. Ed smiled. He put the prosthesis over it and headed into the house. He ate dinner in silence, choosing not to share the medical news with his son or daughter in law with whom he now lived after his wife’s death last year.

After dinner, he went for a walk. It wasn’t a common thing for him to do because his leg protested prolonged activity, but he needed the fresh air and while he hadn’t admitted it yet to himself, he wanted to try out his new medical appliance. He wandered the night for a while before finding himself at Carl’s house.

“Ed? My goodness, it’s been so long.” Carl’s wife said, letting him in.

“I’d like to see him.” Ed said, emotionless.

“Sure. He’d like that.” She worried her hands together. Ed could see her jaw clenching fighting her emotions. She was hurting as much as Carl. The walked the slow, careful walk of the aged to the back bedroom which had been converted to a kind of hospital room. An IV pole hung beside a mechanical bed and a urine filled plastic bag hung on the side of it.

“Carl,” Jeannie said “Ed Green’s come to visit. She smiled apologetically to Ed. “He’s in there, you just can’t see it anymore.” Then without waiting for a response from either man, she hurried out of the room, shutting the door behind her.

“Well, how do ya like this?” Ed asked. Not expecting a reply. “You don’t want it this way, do you, Bud?” Again, he didn’t wait for a response. He plucked his life-like false appendage off revealing the metal spike and without hesitation, plunged it into Carl’s carotid.

He’d expected a geyser of blood like on the horror films he used to enjoy but was disappointed when the flow was more hot lava then Old Faithful. He didn’t stay to watch, instead, put his arm back on and ambled back out. Obviously he would have to do something about Jeannie too. She met him at the end of the hallway.

“He didn’t have much to say, I suppose. It’s certainly something to get used to.” She choked on the second sentence. Ed said nothing. “Well, can I get you a drink or anything?” she asked. Ed nodded. He stood by the kitchen table watching as she shuffled to the fridge. Her intention tremor got the best of her as she tried to pour the iced tea. He could have helped her pour it, instead, he helped her out of the situation all together. She never saw it coming. The glass of tea shattered on the kitchen floor and Ed stood to watch as the tea met the pool of blood before picking up his arm yet again. He’d left his cane leaning near the door. His leg was aching in its absence.

Ed headed home instead of going to Bill’s as he’d originally intended. It was ok though. He’d visit Bill tomorrow. He had time. Six months would be enough.