I am intrigued by serial killers not because of the hideous things they do—the minutia of torture, evisceration, and necrophilia hold no charms for me. I am entranced by serial killers
because of their abject loneliness. I often imagine Ed
Gein, a solitary figure in a midnight graveyard, the sky blanketed with stars,
so starved for companionship that he’s disinterring the bodies of the recently,
and sometimes not so recently, deceased.
I think of Jeffrey Dahmer, his apartment festooned
with decomposing body parts, so desperate for a permanent lover that he’s drilling holes his live victim’s skulls;
he must create a zombie, he knows, because no sentient man would ever,
could ever love him. I think of Ted Bundy,
alone in the blackness of the wee hours of the morning,
driving hundreds of miles trawling for victims; his homicidal impulse at the wheel,
urging him on, a few more miles, a few miles more,
until the sun pinkened the sky and he made his way to Torts class, exhausted.
Nobody knew them. Family, neighbors, friends, acquaintances, nobody.
Oh, people thought they knew them—that Ted’s a real up and comer,
that Ed’s a funny old coot—but their essence, the truth of who they were,
was as unknowable as the existence of god.
If no one knows you, can anyone love you? People may
love the construct, the face you show to the world
at large, but that person is a facade, a brittle shell
covering the infinite blackness of our own true selves. I think
that all of us struggle with this issue to some degree, whether the
secret we’re hiding is a covert racist streak, a penchant for Bukkake porn, or a basement
crawl space chockablock with murdered boys. Serial killers,
at least, have moments of nakedness—they cast their masks of sanity aside
and show their true selves to their victims;
but to whom may the rest of us reveal the blackness in our hearts
and the vitriol in our souls?