Post series: The Movie's End

Serial Killers: The Movie’s End. Part 3

  1. Serial Killers: The Movie’s End. Part 1
  2. Serial Killers: The Movie’s End. Part 2
  3. Serial Killers: The Movie’s End. Part 3

Serial Killers are part of our Trembling With Fear line and are serialized stories which we’ll be publishing on an ongoing basis.

The Movie’s End. Part 3

Tracy heard Mike’s feet scuffing across the hardwood floor as he came out of the bedroom. She had no desire to speak to him, so she pretended to be engrossed in the show, hoping he’d wander out to the kitchen, or maybe he would leave the trailer entirely, finding somewhere else to pass the time until she was gone.

She couldn’t be so lucky. In her peripheral vision, Tracy saw him standing there. He was facing her, his hands at his side, staring at her. Not only is he pathetic, Tracy thought, but he’s a creep!

He was quiet for so long that, when Mike finally did speak, it made Tracy flinch. She hoped he hadn’t noticed; the last thing she wanted was for him to think she was intimidated by him. This wimp couldn’t even scare a neurotic cat.

“Tracy,” Mike said, “I forgive you.”

Forgive me? Tracy thought. For cheating? Well, guess what, loser? I don’t give a fuck if you forgive me or not.

This was the response Tracy’s mind was prepared to administer, but she feared it might start a long, drawn-out conversation. She needed another response, but what could she say? “Thank you?” No, her pride wouldn’t let her to utter those words; it implied she felt sorry for what she had done, and nothing could be further from the truth. Oh, but what words would suffice then? The seconds were ticking by, and he was waiting for her to say something.

Finally, Tracy settled on the most non-committal thing she could think of.

“Uh huh.”

And that was it. He wasn’t going to get any more out of her. Tracy kept her eyes on the television, twirling her hair around one finger, waiting for him to go away.

But he didn’t. Instead, Mike addressed her again.

“Tracy, did you hear me?” he asked insistently.

This was her moment. Tracy knew if she got a little aggressive, Mike would scamper away. She could pretend she was agitated over the fact that he was interrupting her show when she clearly didn’t care what he said.

With her best out-of-control bitch voice, Tracy said, “Goddammit, Mike, don’t you see I’m trying to watch a show here?”

Just as she got to the “dammit” part of her first word, she dramatically snapped her head in his direction. In the past, she noticed that shouting accompanied by a sharp, sudden movement were enough to make him back down. This time, that didn’t happen, but Tracy tried not to let her surprise show on her face. She glared at him, waiting for the moment when he would break.

It wasn’t until he raised his hand that she realized he wasn’t going to…

…because he was holding a gun.

Tracy opened her mouth to tell him to put down the weapon so they could talk things out, but she didn’t have time. Mike flexed his finger, and a bullet exploded out of the gun. He was no marksman, but at this distance it would have been impossible to miss. Tracy’s head rocked back as the bullet slammed into the right side of her skull, entering just above the eye and ripping through the back. There was an audible crunch when the tiny hunk of metal cracked her head open, followed by the wet sounds of brains and blood splashing against the wall behind her. Tracy’s body slumped back and slid down the couch, stopping just short of toppling to the floor. Mike watched her body tremble as the nerve endings twitched in their final death throes. He set the gun on the couch cushion beside her and waited.

Once her quaking was done, Mike picked up Tracy’s body, carrying her into their bedroom and placing her on the bed. As he did this, Mike wondered if she’d had her affair right here in their room. Then he laughed at himself. What an absurd thing to wonder. What difference did it make?

Tracy’s body was now resting on the gasoline-soaked mattress. She hadn’t heard Mike go out the backdoor to retrieve the gas can from his truck, and apparently, she also hadn’t detected the odor of gasoline filling the trailer. If she had, then Mike was certain she would have taken off and foiled his whole plan. Thank God for the Jerry Springer Show because if Tracy hadn’t been so engrossed in that, then Mike would not have been able to do as he pleased now.

With Tracy in place, Mike had only two steps left. He grabbed the gas can and spread what remained of the fluid around the trailer. It didn’t take long because he’d used a lot in the bedroom. His reason for this was symbolic: they had slept together in that room. They’d held each other close, fallen asleep while spooning, had sex there, put most of their possessions in there. It was the place that contained the bulk of their memories together. Therefore, that was the room that had to be burned the most thoroughly. Mike realized he’d used far too much in the bedroom when he got to the kitchen, and only a few drops of gasoline came out. No matter. As long as that bedroom was obliterated, he didn’t care if any of the other rooms burned.

Mike went back into the bedroom, dropping the gas can just inside the door. He went over to the bed, digging a book of matches out of his breast pocket. It dawned on him that he wanted another cigarette first. He stepped back from the bed, so the match wouldn’t make the fumes ignite.

Once the tip of his cigarette was glowing, Mike took two more steps back. The mattress was so soaked that the flames might jump right up to the ceiling once the match landed, and he didn’t want to get caught in the blast.

Mike struck another match and threw it on the bed. It blew out before it touched down, and then he remembered the ceiling fan was still on! He reached up and pulled the string to deactivate it. Then he ignited a third match and pitched it at the mattress, only to watch the flame die out again.

Mike realized what he had to do. He took a step closer to the bed, leaning forward at the waist as he struck match number four. Then, with reflexes he wasn’t even aware he had, Mike threw the burning stick at the bed and jumped back to the doorway. This time, the flame survived its short trip through the air. Just as he’d predicted, the bed practically exploded once the flame touched down. He moved back another step, raising an arm to shield his face against the blast of heat. He remained in the doorway for another moment, peeking over the edge of his forearm to watch the corpse and bed burn. He left when the flames started creeping around the room.

Mike sat on the couch, staring at the Jerry Springer Show credits and listening to the sound of the flames crackling in the bedroom. There was nothing to do now but sit and wait. Out of instinct, he picked up the remote control. He was going to die, but that didn’t mean he had to be bored while he waited.

Mike changed the stations several times. There was either nothing on that he wanted to see, or the program was on a commercial break. He knew he could flip to the TV Guide Channel if he really wanted to find something of interest, but he didn’t feel like waiting through the slow crawl of that menu. Knowing his luck, the flames would reach the couch just as he found something good.

Mike continued to press the “channel up” button, wading through what few stations he and Tracy got, until he came across something amazing, something that blew his mind, something that made him realize the universe was speaking to him.

He came across a station that was playing Metropolis.

Tears welled up in Mike’s eyes. This was an example of the stars aligning just right, something which very rarely happened to him. The saddest part was that, when the news featured a story about this tragic murder-suicide, the irony of this moment would not be discussed. It would be lost in the ashes.

Mike put the remote down and stretched out on the couch, watching the movie that Tracy hadn’t let him finish, while the flames spread. When a commercial break came, he glanced over to see how fast the fire was moving. Judging by the speed at which the trailer was going up, it wouldn’t take that long to reach him.

And he laughed. He laughed at the stupid, bitter, sad, irony of it all. Of everything. Of his life. Of this moment.

He laughed because he realized that, after all these years, he still wouldn’t get to see the movie’s end.

Steve Grogan

Steve Grogan is a writer and musician who pays absolutely no attention to genre. His literary influences include Phillip K. Dick and Thomas Pynchon. He is also inspired by the Smashing Pumpkins. Lastly, Steve enjoys the “pop culture Cuisinart” filmmaking style of Quentin Tarantino. You can find more of his writing on his Amazon Author Page.

Serial Killers: The Movie’s End. Part 2

  1. Serial Killers: The Movie’s End. Part 1
  2. Serial Killers: The Movie’s End. Part 2
  3. Serial Killers: The Movie’s End. Part 3

Serial Killers are part of our Trembling With Fear line and are serialized stories which we’ll be publishing on an ongoing basis.

The Movie’s End. Part 2

Tracy laughed at the antics on the TV screen. A few minutes ago, she had broken the news to Mike that she was leaving. She’d expected ranting, raving, screaming, walls being punched, items being thrown, but none of that happened. All Mike did was ask when she was leaving. His calmness puzzled Tracy at first, but then she realized she didn’t care how he reacted or what he felt. She was getting out, she would be happy, and that was all that mattered. Soon she would be free of the wimp, and she would be in the arms of Harry Stanton. A real man.

She’d met him the day after Mike called to tell her about his trip to Canada. It was at the local watering hole called Sam’s Tavern, which was a puzzling name because the owner was not named Sam. In fact, the bar had never by owned by anyone named Sam. It was one of the small town’s greatest mysteries, but one that never crossed Tracy’s mind unless someone else brought it up.

She had gone to the bar with a couple girlfriends. Toward the end of the night, one of the far-from-sober patrons started hitting on her. Tracy made it clear she was not interested; you couldn’t get much clearer than saying, “You have a better shot with your mother, you creep.” If the drunk hadn’t been determined to bed Tracy before that statement, he was even more insistent after she’d insulted him.

Unaware that she was in trouble, Tracy’s friends had already taken off. (Tracy wished she had realized this before she mocked her would-be suitor.) She called their cell phones in an effort to get at least one of them to return to the bar, but they all went right to voicemail. Great, Tracy thought, now what?

Tracy stayed in the bar until last call because she knew the drunk wouldn’t try anything while other people were around. She stayed in the bar as long as she could, but when the bartender used his old stand-by line (“You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here), she had no choice but to leave.

When she stepped outside, she saw the drunk and two of his friends standing by an ancient-looking pick-up truck. The drunk pointed Tracy out to his companions, and they surrounded her. Her main adversary reached out to brush a hand against her cheek. Even his fingers smelled like alcohol.

Tracy was facing the bar, which gave her the chance to see a glimmer of hope: a giant mountain of a man exited the bar. He stopped a few feet from the door and made eye contact with Tracy. She hoped he could see the fear in her eyes.

He did. The giant stormed over to Tracy’s car, moving much faster than anyone his size had a right to, and said, “Is there a problem here?”

The drunk turned around. Tracy would have given anything to see the look in the man’s eyes when he saw the size of the guy addressing him.

“Not unless you want one,” the drunk said.

“Jesus, man,” one of the drunk’s friends said, “he’ll fuckin’ snap us all in two”

The drunk probably knew his friend was right, but he was committed. He’d already made a show of being a tough guy. To back down now would be to lose major face, and word of it would travel quickly in this town.

“You can run if you want,” the drunk said. “As for me…”

In mid-sentence, the drunk took a swing at the tall man. The giant closed the gap between himself and his adversary, stepping inside the arc of the punch while hitting his foe in the face with an elbow. The blow dropped the drunk right on the spot. After looking at their unconscious partner for a second, the two friends took off.

The man-mountain moved toward Tracy and put a reassuring hand on her shoulder. He asked if she was all right. She nodded silently, unable to find any words. All she could think of was that Mike would have never done anything like that for her. He was a coward, avoiding confrontation every chance he got. This giant was the kind of man she needed, so she set her sights on getting him.

His name was Harry Stanton, and he was a mechanic at a garage not far from the trailer park. Tracy learned when he went on lunch break, and she made it a point to visit Harry whenever he was working. She never mentioned Mike to him because she realized that Harry was a noble man; if he knew an involved woman was making the moves on him, he would have given her the cold shoulder.

It wasn’t long before she seduced Harry and took him to bed. She even managed to get to the point where they were talking about moving in together, all without him knowing about Mike. In a town of this size, that was nothing short of a miracle. When she asked Harry if he wanted her to move in, he said yes without hesitation.

All she had to do now was get her stuff out. Tracy had been hoping to do it before Mike showed up, but he got back from Canada in record time. Oh well. No big deal. She didn’t give a shit if he was here or not. Either way, she was moving on to what promised to be a happy future with Harry.

The show went to a commercial, and Tracy heard a splashing sound. For a moment she wondered what kind of nonsense the loser was up to, but she didn’t care enough to go find out.

Her phone was resting on the arm of the couch, and it lit up as a text message came in. Tracy saw it was from her girlfriend Linda. The question on the screen was the kind that only the closest friends could ask each other without causing chaos:

how’s it going, bitch?

Tracy laughed as she opened the message and typed a quick response:

watching Springer, waiting for toe nails to dry and then I’m out of here

The downfall of living in a text/email/Facebook messenger-loving society was that you could not hear a person’s tone of voice when they contacted you, but Linda’s next message was the exception to that rule. Tracy could practically hear Linda shouting out, delightfully surprised.

you mean you told Mike???

Tracy confirmed that she had. Linda asked how Mike reacted. After describing it, Linda summed up everything a person needed to know about Mike in four simple words:

he is so pathetic!

Tracy laughed and texted back that she was in 100% agreement with that.

When the show came back from commercial, Tracy checked on her toenails. Still not quite dry. Every second she remained in the trailer felt like an eternity, but she kept repeating to herself: not much longer, not much longer.

She stared at the television, but she didn’t really see it anymore. Instead, Tracy found herself peering into the past, remembering the day she met Mike. He seemed so rugged, so confident, so sure of himself. After she moved in with him, it didn’t take Tracy long to realize it was all a front. Underneath that badass exterior, Mike was a scared, spineless little boy. And poor. Probably the poorest motherfucker she’d ever met. What use was a boyfriend who could never surprise her with some fancy jewelry or some other wonderfully, ridiculously exotic gift? Not much use at all.

Tracy’s memories faded away, and she sat there on the couch in an almost meditative state. Having no further thoughts or memories caused Tracy’s other senses to be momentarily heightened, and that was when she noticed there was a strange aroma in the air. It was an unusual scent for the interior of a trailer, but she knew she’d smelled it somewhere else. Why couldn’t she place it?

Steve Grogan

Steve Grogan is a writer and musician who pays absolutely no attention to genre. His literary influences include Phillip K. Dick and Thomas Pynchon. He is also inspired by the Smashing Pumpkins. Lastly, Steve enjoys the “pop culture Cuisinart” filmmaking style of Quentin Tarantino. You can find more of his writing on his Amazon Author Page.

Serial Killers: The Movie’s End. Part 1

  1. Serial Killers: The Movie’s End. Part 1
  2. Serial Killers: The Movie’s End. Part 2
  3. Serial Killers: The Movie’s End. Part 3

Serial Killers are part of our Trembling With Fear line and are serialized stories which we’ll be publishing on an ongoing basis.

The Movie’s End. Part 1

Mike sat on the edge of the bed, smoking a cigarette, staring at the mirror that was attached to the back of Tracy’s dresser. Even though his clothes were in it too, he wouldn’t call it “their” dresser. No, Tracy had made it clear a long time ago, when they first moved in together, that she abided by the old philosophy: “What’s mine is mine, and what’s yours is mine.” A lot of people wondered why Mike had bothered taking their relationship to this step if he knew she was like that, but the answer was…he didn’t know until they became domestic partners.

Mike equated it to switching jobs. You might go from being an office worker to a truck driver (like Mike had), but you don’t know you hate it until you are out on the road, away from your friends and loved ones, away from everything you know, sleeping in a cramped position, getting yelled at by the people that you make deliveries to, and so on.

He got home after having made a particularly grueling haul up to Canada. His manager had sent the load to Mike at the last possible second, just as he was about to lay down for some rest. It was a long trek, and Mike knew he and Tracy couldn’t afford for him to pass on that much mileage.

So Mike did what came naturally to him: he sucked it up, ignoring his own discomfort and fatigue, and accepted the haul. It took him several days to get up because he’d been in California at the time, but he pulled it off. He got it delivered on time and without breaking any Department of Transportation rules.

Once he was done, a rare thing happened: Mike’s driver manager told him to go home and take a break. This was unheard of but, rather than give Mike a raise, this was the company’s way of saying “thank you,” so he headed home.

And this was how karma decided to repay him? It just didn’t seem fair.

The first thing Mike saw when he walked in was Tracy. She was barefoot, her heels resting on the edge of the couch while her toenails dried. She was watching Maury, or Jerry, or one of those obnoxious daily talk shows that claimed to be reality, but even an uneducated man like Mike could see through the façade. Mike had been to a lot of places and met a lot of people, but he’d never met anyone who was as over-the-top trashy as the “guests” on these shows, and man oh man did it piss him off that Tracy was drawn to these programs. Just because they lived in a trailer park didn’t mean they had to live up to the stereotype, but Tracy didn’t agree with him on that one. In fact, Mike had never met a person whose philosophy on life was further from his. This became even more apparent once they lived together.

He remembered going to a video store one time and coming home with a movie that was not only black and white but was also silent. The movie was called Metropolis, and Mike rented it because the cover art (a picture of a shapely female robot) caught his eye. When he read the description on the back, he was even more intrigued.

Mike brought it home and popping the movie into the DVD player. (Friday night was always movie night for him and Tracy. They would take turns: one Friday she would pick a movie, and Mike got next week.) Once it got past the credits, Mike noticed Tracy was sitting there with her mouth agape, a puzzled look on her face.

“Where’s the sound?” she asked.

“There isn’t any,” Mike answered.

Tracy released a sound that was full of contempt. “So not only is it in black and white, but it’s a silent movie?”

Mike felt the defensive walls getting raised in his mind. “What’s wrong with that?”

“Silent movies are old and lame, Mike,” Tracy said. “Jesus, I can’t believe you. No one else in this trailer park would watch this movie.”

Mike arched his eyebrows at this comment. What the hell did he care what anyone else in the park would watch? It was absurd, and he couldn’t contain the sarcastic comment that exploded from his mouth.

“I’ll try to live with that, Tracy,” he said, laughing. “I really will.”

Tracy shot a dirty look at him. Then she got up and went in their bedroom. Mike sat there watching the movie for about ten minutes before she returned, wearing one of her “LOOK AT ME” outfits and dolled up to the eyeballs in makeup.

“I’m going out with the girls,” Tracy said.

“But it’s movie night,” Mike replied.

“I know. Enjoy,” she said as she walked out the door.

Mike watched the movie for a minute or two before shutting it off and going to bed. He never saw the end of it, and they never had movie night again.

His mind rushed through this memory as he stood in the middle of the living room, watching the melodrama unfold on the screen. Tracy didn’t say a word to him, not even “hello.” Mike would have never expected to hear her say something like, “Hi, honey;” those terms of endearment had vanished long ago. That was why, when she did speak, he was amazed that she had addressed him at all.

“You just gonna stand there all day?” Tracy asked.

He looked at her, intending to meet her with a stony gaze, but she wasn’t even looking at him. Not surprising. She rarely did anymore. And even if her eyes did swing his way, it felt like she was looking right through him.

“I don’t know,” Mike said. “I don’t have anything better to do.”

“Yeah,” she said. “There’s a lot of things you don’t know.”

Mike furrowed his brow. “What does that mean?”

With a sigh, Tracy picked up the remote and muted the television. She scooted forward on the couch, putting her feet on the hardwood floor but curling her toes to avoid messing up the nail polish.

“Well, there’s no point in beating around the bush,” Tracy said. “I’m leaving you, Mike. I found someone else.”

It took a moment for what she said to hit home. When it did, he realized what it meant: while he had been out busting his ass, risking his life driving while fatigued, she was back here cheating on him. How was that for payback? Meanwhile, Mike knew women whose boyfriend’s beat them black and blue, and they were the most loyal girlfriends a guy could hope for.

The unfairness of it all should have stirred up a rage that had no equal inside him, but he felt nothing. He stared blankly at her curled toes.

“When are you leaving?” he asked.

“After my toenails dry,” she said.

Without making sure the conversation was over, Tracy unmuted the television. Mike found himself wondering when she had applied the nail polish. If he knew that, then he’d know when it would dry, and when she would be leaving. It occurred to him he could ask her, but he didn’t want to talk anymore.

That was when he walked into the bedroom, dug a pack of Marlboros out of his breast pocket, and started smoking. And this was where he had been ever since. The only sound in the house was the endless chants of “Jer-ry, Jer-ry, Jer-ry” from the living room, or the wind making tree branches brush against the side of the trailer. Every now and then the wind would pick up, causing the branches to pound against the walls, making them sound more urgent, as if they were trying to say, “Do something, fool!”

But what was there to do? She cheated, and now she was leaving. All he had to do was wait. And that was what he did. He sat there at the foot of the bed, staring at himself in the mirror, watching the tendrils of cigarette smoke curl like fingers as they drifted upward before they got shattered by the motion of the ceiling fan. Then it dawned on Mike that he was looking at his reflection in the same way that Tracy looked at him.

He was looking through himself.

Was that how insignificant he had become? His existence reduced so close to nothing that he couldn’t even see himself?

Again, he was struck by how unfair it was. Except this time when the feeling hit, he was determined to figure out what could be done about it.

Steve Grogan

Steve Grogan is a writer and musician who pays absolutely no attention to genre. His literary influences include Phillip K. Dick and Thomas Pynchon. He is also inspired by the Smashing Pumpkins. Lastly, Steve enjoys the “pop culture Cuisinart” filmmaking style of Quentin Tarantino. You can find more of his writing on his Amazon Author Page.