“Ben? What are you doing in there?”
I briefly glanced up at the door where my wife stood on the other side.
“I’ll just be another minute.” There was no point in answering her question. She knew what I was doing, I’m sure. And she didn’t like it. And she didn’t understand. Because she wanted me to move on.
My eyes slid back down to my phone where they continued to watch the tiny screen for another four minutes. I had scoured the internet for months looking for the rest of the trial but all I could find was this aggressively edited six minute segment that had been televised by A Current Affair. I’d seen the video so many times I knew every detail of every second. But still I watched. Because I needed an answer.
The camera was currently focused on the jury. They were all leaning forward and concentrating on the testimony of a forensics expert. The camera then slid over to the witness stand where Dr. Felmore talked about the decomposition of Andrew’s body and the state it had been in when a dog-walker had discovered it the previous May.
Felmore then walked over to the overhead projector, tapped a stack of slides on the table to straighten them, and then slid the top slide off of the stack and placed it on the projector. A graphic photo of Andrew’s naked body suddenly assaulted the court and the entire room gasped. A Current Affair had blurred out the photo but I remembered what was on it. My poor little Andrew…it had been my job to protect him. They were right to be horrified. Listening to a monotone medical expert drone on about the graphic abuse of a five year old child was much different than seeing its effects first hand.
The doctor explained the slides without emotion, pointing out the countless abrasions, bruises, and open fractures. He spoke about the ultimate manner of death – strangulation – and showed the court how the handprints on Andrew’s neck matched perfectly with the defendant’s. Then he turned the projector off and began to speak to about his presumed time of death.
The camera pulled back at this point to show my family, quietly crying.
And then, finally, it panned over to the defendant’s table. The boy sitting beside his lawyer looked downright bored. He flipped a pencil back and forth between his fingers and sighed loudly, every few seconds. This – this was the monster I wanted to kill. He seemed to feel that the camera was on him because he suddenly turned, looked straight into the camera, and smiled. It was a smug, intelligent smile. As if he wasn’t afraid of the consequences. As if he believed it had all been worth it.
And in the end, I suppose he was right. The boy had been sentenced incarceration until his majority and then another seven years after that. It was nothing. I knew better than anyone that it was less than nothing.
I looked over at the gun I had hidden under the sink. It now sat on the bathroom counter, begging me for justice. Was it too good of a death for a monster like this? It would be so easy. Too easy. Didn’t justice require more? A manner of death similar to what my little brother had suffered all those years ago? Andrew had endured horrors no human should suffer. Days of it.
I looked back down at the tiny screen and watched the last few seconds of the video. The boy had suddenly sat up at rapt attention as some of the makeshift torture devices he’d built were brought out and placed on a table near the jury. My family was escorted from the courtroom and A Current Affair ended the segment there. But it didn’t matter, because I remembered what had happened next.
The detective had held up each one of the devices for the jury to examine and I’d rocked back and forth in my seat next to my lawyer, giddy with pride at my gruesome creations.
Valerie knocked again. “Ben, are you coming to bed or not?”
But I was contemplating a much more important question, the only one that mattered. In truth, I knew how to kill a monster. I glanced over at the revolver on the counter. That part was easy. But the problem was more complex than that. Because how do you kill a monster when it’s inside of you?