This a short story for the daily prompt. This is my experience of evil. In my writing the ‘evil’ people are not as evil as they seem and the good can be the monsters. I have found in real life that evil does not come dressed in black with a conveniently located scar. Instead it can be young, or beautiful, or harmless appearing, but rarely is t where you expect it to be.
To begin with no one was afraid of him, I know I wasn’t. He was odd but he’d talk to everyone in the street. Dad knew him well and sometimes I’d wander over and have a chat with them.
“You’re a good girl, aren’t you,” he’d say, his voice high. I’d just nod and hide behind my father. They’d then go back to talking about cars or how Paul across the road was always cleaning his.
“He’s very odd,” Martin would say and dad would nod his agreement, as they watched Paul give the car another wash, the soap suds removing the last speck of dust from the metallic silver paint. It was when he started hovering the engine that dad would roll his eyes and Martin would say in that funny high voice, “Very odd.” I laugh now, for Martin to think Paul odd, I even smiled back then, but only to be polite.
No one had a problem with Martin, but I found him strange. His voice was too high and he would swing his shoulders as he walked but keep the rest of his body completely rigid. The kids would follow him as he made his way up and down the street, my sister one of them, her arms held out at her sides and her hands limp, moving her shoulders exaggeratedly from one side and then the other. They would mince behind him and he would laugh and make his own steps even more strident, leaving the kids giggling and falling about in his wake. But that laugh never reached his eyes. To me he always seemed to be holding a secret, one he had no intention of telling, except every now and then he would look at me and it was as if he wanted to tell me his secret. Then he would sidle up and whisper, “Are you still a good girl, Joanne?” I’d nod and run off home. It got to the stage that I would just disappear if I saw him.
It was his eyes. They would stare at you like those of a shark; dead, but at the same time calculating. As if he was trying to see if I was a truly good on the inside, or if I was stained. To begin with I found him unsettling and then annoying, but eventually this man induced fear.
He was always clean shaven with freshly pressed clothes and his hair was neatly combed and parted down the middle. It caught the light; as if it were patent leather and I remember asking dad about it one day after Martin had just left. He had shrugged and said it was probably some sort of cream or oil.
Martin only touched me a couple of times; once to shake hands and the other to pat my arm. Both I remember distinctly. The handshake had been limp and his hand cold, but at the same time clammy, so that by the end I felt I needed to wipe my hand on my jeans to get him off. I didn’t. I’m too polite. The second time I’d been upset and not looking where I was going. It was some sort of fight between friends and I was just storming up the road to my house. I wasn’t paying attention. If I had been then perhaps I would have stopped and taken another route. It would have been slightly longer but I would have missed Martin, but with my eyes to the ground I didn’t see him until it was too late.
“Joanne, are you alright?” he’d asked, standing in front of me and blocking my way. I just nodded. He put a hand out and patted my arm. Actually it was more like a stroke. Inside I shuddered but on the outside I refused to show him any reaction. Instead I looked at the ground and allowed the tears to fall. “You on your way home?” I nodded, staying quiet. “Do you want me to walk you?” I shook my head, thinking, please, no. One more cold clammy stroke and he moved out of the way. I didn’t wait but strode off as fast as I could. After a moment I heard his steps retreating and I relaxed a little, only then realising how tense I’d been.
That was the last time I saw Martin before the police pulled into the road. I suppose he was on the news, but I didn’t watch it. So it came as a surprise when a line of cop cars and a van pulled up outside his house. I hadn’t seen him in a while, but really that had been a blessing. The police pulled up and broke into his house. The door was one of those panelled ones and as the metal battering ram connected, it just folded in. All of us kids just stood with our mouths open until the parents cottoned onto what was happening and then they came and got us.
I then had to rely on a gift I have. In olden days children were seen and not heard, but I had worked out that if you sit quietly and, pretend to read, adults forget you are there. That is what I did to find out about Martin.
Mum was in the living room with her friend Miriam, so I just sat really quietly with a book. Neither of them even looked at me.
“I can’t believe it,” Miriam started.
“He seemed so nice,” Mum finished, and I was intrigued, not that I’d ever thought Martin nice.
“I know his mother. They’ve pulled down her new conservatory and dug up the foundations.” Miriam’s voice rose. “All because he helped put it up.”
“But do you think he did it?” mum asked.
“Killed all those women?”
“And cut them up,” Mum added.
Miriam shrugged. “I don’t know. If you’d asked me before all this I would have said no, but now…” she tailed off.
I sat there for the rest of Miriam’s visit, unseen, but all they talked about was the kids and the weather. Once Miriam had left mum stopped inside the living room and looked at me. “Don’t tell the younger kids.”
I turned innocent eyes to her and she just smiled and shook her head. I didn’t tell anyone, but I think I must have been the only person in the street who wasn’t surprised at Martin’s gruesome dealings. He had only killed prostitutes but sometimes I still hear his question, “are you a good girl?”