“So you’ll come back to my place?”
“Sure, mister. I don’t mind.”
“That’s very obliging of you.”
“The customer is always right.”
“A noble attitude.”
“And you don’t mind if things get… a trifle unusual?”
“Believe me, mister. I’ve seen it all before.”
He smiled. “You never know.”
Perfection itself. Why kidnap someone when you could persuade them to come with you voluntarily? That made it ever so much simpler to travel through Kingsbury Run unnoticed, to bring her back to the brewery. To do what he wanted to do to her.
“No one works here?” she asked, as she walked around the abandoned building.
“Not anymore. Prohibition put it out of business.”
“Shame. I like a beer every so often. How ’bout you?”
“I prefer something stronger.”
“I pegged you for a drinker.”
“Now and again.”
“Pardon me for sayin’ so, but you seem a little too classy to be hang-in’ out in Kingsbury Run.”
“Appearances can be deceiving. Have you seen the Sailors’ Home?”
“Sure. Oh-I get it. You really do like a drink now and again.”
“Just as I said.”
He removed the plank in the floor, took out the ropes, and tied her to the chair.
“Hey, what’s that about?”
“Just a harmless ritual. I’m… complicated.”
“I get it. You like a girl to seem helpless. Like you’re in control.”
“Something like that.”
“Hey, can you loosen them knots a little? I’m not sure I can move.”
“I’m not sure I want you to move.”
He shoved her and her chair forward across the table. Her hands were tied behind her back; her legs were tied together. Her torso was flattened across the length of the table while her head dangled off the edge.
“Hey, this is gettin’ weird.” For the first time, her voice contained a trace of apprehension.
“You said you were ready for anything.”
“Look, you want to take me that way, just do it.”
“That isn’t what I had in mind.”
“You’re not trying to get some action?”
“Not in the way that you mean.”
“You’re some kinda customer.”
“I’m a man of science.”
“ ’Zat so? What’s this, an experiment?”
“You could say that.”
“Hey-what’s with the axe?” Her voice had passed well beyond the point of apprehension. She was scared.
He took careful aim. If he judged it correctly, one slice would be sufficient to sever the head at the level of the third intervertebral disk…
He swung. It worked. Severed in a single slice. Superb.
But what is the point if no one knows? How could there be any pleasure in that?
He liked swinging the axe. It was a good feeling. He liked using his physical strength. They let him use knives at the hospital, scalpels, but never anything like this. This was better. From now on, he would devote his energies to the endeavors that truly mattered. Not the coddling of the sick and infirm. Something on a grander scale.
The blood rolled down the slanted floor and into the drainage tunnel. So much could be discarded that way. She had told him she loved the waters. Perhaps she would have chosen it for her final resting place. Perhaps he would choose it for her.
She had not screamed when the axe touched her neck. That was a disappointment. It happened all too swiftly. There was no time to react, no chance to savor the moment.
He would learn from his mistakes.
He pushed open the sliding door and stepped outside, brushing the blood from his apron as he walked. Across the river, the smoke and dirt hovering over the city made a visible cloud that never cleared. He preferred it here, away from the mad traffic, the insane hustling back and forth, the people who thought they were so modern but in fact had no idea what modern was.
He would show them.
Something new had come to town.