As soon as one young couple tore down the yellow caution tape plastered across the front door, picked the locks and entered the abandoned house, the rest of the neighbors in the cul-de-sac followed suit. They were all curious about this two story colonial, for its owner was recently arrested for killing 15 elderly couples every Easter Sunday for the last six years.
“I always knew something was off about him,” one man said as he thumbed through a dusty collection of vinyl records. “Tony and I would invite him to our fishing trips and he never once accepted. Always had plans.”
“I always have plans when you invite me on your fishing trips.” Another man smirked as he tossed a broken digital camera on the sofa. “Does that make me a serial killer, too?”
Despite the cops leaving the home in disarray after searching for evidence, it was a rather unique, tidy place. The countertops were clean, the hardwood floors had a post-mop shine. The only thing discerning component was a rotten smell lingering from the spare bedroom, a stench no amount of cleaning product could mask.
“Innocent until proven guilty,” one woman rifling through the storage closet said.
“Edna, you’ve seen the news!” her husband yelled from the kitchen. “They literally found all the bodies that he stored in one of the bedrooms. The guy made no effort to hide them. Who knows what he did with them in there? Probably Ted Bundy and Ed Gein stuff going on in there.”
“Wouldn’t that be fucking something,” a young teenager muttered under her breath.
One man dropped a flower vase and frantically covered his child’s ears. “Hey! Maybe you want to not talk like that in front of my kid?”
“Dude, you literally brought your kid into a serial killer’s house. I think he can handle the fuck word.”
The conversations carried as they explored the rest of the house and found boxes of small glass eyes, a china tea set, an early 2000’s computer and monitor, little mirrors shaped like suns, a desk filled with crumpled papers and religious books, lightbulbs filled with dead succulents, bookshelves with DVD’s and action figures and video games. There were a couple rocking chairs, spoons, lamps, paintings of rabbits, a family of taxidermized rats, a starved Ficus, deer antlers, photo albums, a broken grandfather clock.
Everyone was in the kitchen now, their tote bags and purses filled with the serial killer’s belongings. Some put little sticky notes with their names on them on the bigger items. A group of teenagers discovered beer in the fridge and vodka in the freezer. The little break-in had turned into the essence of a neighborhood block party.
Edna was holding a framed polaroid of the serial killer when she said to herself, “He’s been to our house before. I met two of the victims, actually.”
The chatter came to a halt as everyone took in her words.
“Edna? What? When did that happen?” her husband asked.
“That one Easter a few years ago, when you decided to go on one of Tony’s fishing trips and leave me alone. He was the only one in the neighborhood who wasn’t busy, so I invited him over. It was the first and last time I ever talked to him. He said he had company and I asked him to bring them over. They were all sweet, he said they were his parents or something. I don’t know if they actually were. We went back here for dessert and ate right where I’m sitting.”
“What happened after that?” the young teenager asked.
Edna thought about it for a moment, tightening her grip on the frame, her hands shaking, her nose scrunching in disgust. Tears welled up in her eyes, she felt her cheeks burning. Suddenly she shook her head and smiled as she looked up at the audience of neighbors staring at her, eyes wide and mouths gaped. “Nothing. Nothing at all. I thanked him for the dessert, went home and never heard about the couple again. And now here we are.”