Keeping It Real
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I call in sick today and Benson is suspicious. Whatever. I sit at my computer and flip the switch, bringing the blank monitor to life. The chat room calls. My name is BANE.

SPAZZ is on again. All he can talk about is his divorce and how he hates his wife.

SPAZZ: Is it against the law to hire a hit man? Just kidding.

BANE: Iíve heard of too many cases where a hit man was more trouble than he was worth. Much better to do it yourself. Just kidding.

SPAZZ: Donít tempt me.

BANE: Iím just voicing what you really want to do. Hear me out. If youíre not afraid.

A dog barks. I look out the window. A woman is walking a dog, but the mutt keeps pulling away. Sheís using one of those choker collars. The kind that strangle dogs if theyíre not used right. The more the dog tugs at the chain, the tighter it becomes. Soon the dog stops barking and begins gasping for air. The woman calmly jerks the leash, and as they turn the corner out of sight, I can hear the dogís toenails scraping on the concrete. The scene repulses me and I think about Benson.

My jaw begins to clench.

SPAZZ: I donít think I hate her enough to kill.

BANE: Thatís the problem with people. They think too much.

SPAZZ: Okay. How would you do it?

Yeah, I told SPAZZ that people think too much, but some serious thinking was in order to answer this question. I ran a picture through my mind of the perfect murder. Gunshot. Strangling. Stabbing. Explosion. Carbon monoxide. Poison. Not to mention the various methods of torture. The list is endless.

I smile for the first time in weeks.

BANE: Logic and reason are your friends. You canít afford to be ruled by impulse.

Murder is a fine art.

SPAZZ: You sound pretty serious. This is a joke, right?

BANE: Of course. Weíre just hypothesizing.

The phone rings. I feel the tension in my neck and back. Sweat begins to bead along my forehead. Caller ID says BENSON. Heís checking up on me. I take a deep breath as I pick up the phone.

ďHello.Mr. Benson?...yes, sir.not too good.I think I might go to the doctor if my fever doesnít break soon.I should be back to work in a couple of days.I just need some rest.I appreciate your concern, but itís not couldnít trouble you.itís out of your way.of course you can drop by.if you insist.goodbye, sir.Ē

Looks like Iíll be having company later. Bensonís making a special trip to see me and heís bringing the Hamilton file. He thinks I can work on it at home when I start feeling better so I wonít be so far behind. My lucky day. I look at my computer screen. SPAZZ hasnít missed a beat.

SPAZZ: How exactly would you kill my wife?

BANE: You need to observe her behaviors. What is her daily routine? Where does she go? What does she do? Then you need to establish an alibi. That is very important. A documented phone call or an airplane ticket.

SPAZZ: Seems like an awful lot of trouble.

BANE: Yeah, but the stakes are high in the game of murder. You have to really want this person dead. Nothing else matters. You embrace a perpetual hatred toward the object of your wrath. Your life is meaningless as long as she is alive.

SPAZZ: I guess youíre right.

BANE: It requires commitment and patience. Observations of her behaviors may take weeks. Even months. But in the end itís worth it.

SPAZZ: What about motive? If you hate someone that much, youíre bound to be the first suspect.

BANE: Youíre right. You have to speak well of her in front of others, especially her close friends and associates. In fact, go out of your way to be kind and thoughtful to her. This is all part of the preparation period.

SPAZZ: Hey, youíre good.

BANE: Compliments will get you nowhere.

SPAZZ: The weapon of choice?

BANE: Poison. Itís silent. No fuss. No pain. Easy clean up.

SPAZZ: You give her a martini, or what?

BANE: A dark-colored carbonated beverage works best. Hides the fizz.

SPAZZ: Since weíve gone this far, how would you dispose of the body?

I thoughtfully stroke my chin. Slicing and dicing is no good. Much more fun but way too messy. Blood everywhere. Burning is good if you have a fireplace or furnace, however, it would have to be in winter, otherwise it will arouse the curiosity of neighbors.

BANE: Bury it. Preferably in a basement underneath the concrete or in a wall. Like a tomb. You can use chemicals to dry out the body to prevent odor.

SPAZZ: Seems like you have an answer for everything. Iím impressed.

BANE I havenít mentioned the most important thing.

SPAZZ: Whatís that?

BANE: The test comes when they begin to question you about what happened. At this point, you must be very careful. Everything depends on it. Act too upset, theyíve got you. Act too casual, theyíve got you. Be ready for any question. Theyíre experts. If you can beat them on the psychological level, youíve won. Keep your story straight. Thatís the key. They will have you retell the story over and over, asking different questions each time, trying to trip you up. And theyíll analyze every movement. Every facial expression. Every nuance of speech.

SPAZZ: Congratulations. Youíve committed the perfect murder.

The doorbell rings. Itís Benson with my ďhomework.Ē

BANE: Have to sign off now. Talk later.

I log off. As I walk to the door, I smile for the second time in weeks. On the kitchen table are two glasses and a six pack of Coke.

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