On Friday August 28th Daniel Westburn was reported missing by his co-workers. According to the police statement, he had been acting strangely for the last few months; erratic and uncharacteristic. When he didn’t show up to work that Monday, no one thought anything of it. His wife left him, his co-workers weren’t worried, his family is gone or moved away; no one cared.
Two Saturdays ago I knocked on his door with two cups of coffee in hand; I asked to talk – to clear the air. It took twenty minutes for him to fall asleep.
When Sandra was six she would have night terrors. I babysat the kids a lot. When I realized what was happening, her mother’s solution was drugs. And it worked, for once. All it took was one pill from an over the counter container. That’s why I knew it would work on Daniel.
He never got around to finishing his basement. Charlotte once told me that it was their newly wed project and when they both let it go, she knew it was the beginning of the end – a little too poetic if you ask me but I get where she’s coming from. Renovations take communication and teamwork and if it doesn’t last then there’s something wrong.
Without the finished basement there was a lot of exposed pipe. Perfect for tying a man up with wires and a rope I commandeered from his shed. I told James to look after Jason and then I moved forward.
I awoke the victim at 6:37am on Sunday morning with scalding coffee down the front of his button-up shirt. The coffee burned his flesh on slightly but the pain was enough to shock him awake. After that, a low voltage shock to his abdomen every twenty minutes kept him screamingly conscious. I tried to think of something clever to say to him as he pled for his life on that first day. I couldn’t find the words. I just cried and burnt. I didn’t speak to him for twelve hours. At the end of it, he had 39 marks on his body, and it wasn’t enough.
I made him dinner. Nothing fancy but I made rice with chunks of chicken in it and I fed it to him slowly; mostly because he spit the first few bites in my face. A few more shocks to his system forced him to eat properly. Can’t have him dying before I decide he’s ready. Of that entire first day, dinner was by far the strangest. He didn’t fight me after that. He was silent. And he took his punishment – 9 more lashes.
I slammed the door as I walked out. I would not let him enjoy a moment of this.
As I sat at my desk on Monday morning I could focus on nothing but him. The look in his eyes after I force fed him dinner. So blank, so unfeeling. He didn’t understand why this was happening.
So that night after work, I grabbed a hammer from the shed and I smashed his pelvis in. He screamed and the sock shoved down his throat didn’t help much. I just saw red. So when his fingers reached out to me, the wire cutting through the skin of his meaty wrists, I didn’t think. I struck the knuckles of his right hand and it flattened against the wall. His hand became swollen and purple. I loved the shade so much I did it to his left hand.
He wouldn’t stop crying and thrashing. His hands were so big. I made them bigger. This time I watched his eyes as I broke his fingers one by one. He blinked but he never hid. His eyes were so red, so puffy and swollen, like his hands. His jaw barely moved but that was when the whimpers started. With each crack of bone, his eyes grew sad with fear.
Supper was a combination of mushroom soup (which he ate without any fuss) and bread – because I couldn’t be bothered to toast it. That supper was thick and heavy. I had nothing clever to say to him and he remained silent. Only the whimpers.
I don’t think he slept that night.
When I found him on Tuesday, his whimpers had grown to cries – moans of what I assume to be agony. He stared at me, pleading. Eyes wide and unrecognizable. He was…submissive. Whatever had come to him in the night had changed him, made him weak.
I found a lighter upstairs, some rubbing alcohol in the bathroom, I pulled a sewing needle from my purse (yes, I carry a travel sewing kit with me everywhere) and I pulled out the skin beneath his fingernails. One by one. It didn’t hurt as much as it could have; he’d lost a lot of feeling in his fingers by then. But the whimpering didn’t stop. He-he wouldn’t stop.
The middle finger of his left hand: that’s when he stopped whimpering. He said “please”. He kept saying “please” over and over again as I pulled pieces of flesh from his body. The first words I spoke to him were “stop”. But he didn’t. He just kept repeating, over and over.
Please. Please. Please. Please.
So I cut his tongue out. He cried out and he whimpered but he didn’t speak.
I left early that night. Neither of us had supper. I’m pretty sure his tongue is still tucked behind the boiler. It must reek.
That night, I threw up, I curled up on top of the covers, James wrapped his arms around me, and I cried myself to sleep. I resolved to maintain my focus, to make him suffer.
So come Wednesday night, I found myself in a much more playful mood. I told Daniel to use all of his senses. So I started by cutting tiny slits in his eyeballs. He almost passed out form the pain but a quick jolt kept him in the game.
I think Wednesday was the best day of all. He didn’t talk, he didn’t whimper- he didn’t make a sound. He sat there, his swollen hands dangling in the air. His eyeballs bleeding onto his shattered lap. I had all the freedom in the world. I sat and I told him about my day while I carved shapes into his flesh. I didn’t talk about Sandra or all the things he’d done to deserve this. Instead I drew hearts into the soles of his feet while I told him about how insensitive Heather had been yesterday. About the woman who cut me off on the highway last week and I resisted the urge to kill her. I made basic shapes on any exposed flesh, crawling over him like the doll he was. Like I was a child, drawing on an easel. I hadn’t been that relaxed and I probably won’t be for some time. We ate hamburgers with cheese and tomato. Well, I did. He sat. My ragdoll.
Thursday was a bit…messy.
My poor rag doll had slumped down too far so I used the rope to pull him up. Unfortunately I pulled too hard and the pipe it was attached to collapsed down on us. It was the sewage pipe. It didn’t think that was still a thing that could happen but parts of the basement flooded with contaminated water; particularly around our little setup. I left right away and took a nice hot shower.
I did a lot of thinking that night.
I thought about what had led me here. About the seventeen year old with her first crush, murdering the football star. About the girl who had sex with her co-worker and blamed everyone but herself. About the private investigator who couldn’t let it go.
By Thursday night, Daniel had spent six nights in my care. He’d pleaded, he’d cried – but not once had he apologized or shown any sign of remorse for what he did to my family. I may never get it. He was just wasting my time.
Friday morning before work, I took a bottle of bleach and I poured it down Daniel’s throat. He vomited on himself so I poured more. Then I left him there, to die however he chose. By the time I had finished work, Daniel Westburn had died.
And I felt nothing.
I called James and he brought over garbage bags and a mop. Jason was home alone but he never left his room. Between the two of us, it took two days to completely cut up the body and prepare it for transport. Then we took separate vehicles, drove in different directions and disposed of the pieces in secret. Parts of Daniel are scattered in the river while others went through the sewage treatment plant – fitting, I thought.
Daniel is dead.
Sandra is dead.
And right now, I feel…