Friday, 29 March 2013

Acting Out - Friday Flash


He religiously viewed every programme he appeared in. He'd played detectives, uniforms, white-suited forensic officers, witnesses and persons of interest. (though for some reason, never the murderer, perhaps because of his good looks and the producers' executive decision that a murderer had to look evil). He could portray evil, he'd once played Iago at High School. But no dice, as with his whole acting career which had never taken off, not even second spear carrier in a local community production. Hence he'd eked out a career doing bit parts in crime reconstruction shows.

All the roles he'd played, shared the same fate as that of the corpse, (which he'd also played on occasion), you never heard their words. You heard them speak, but their actual words were muted low in order that the voice-over cut across it. He never understood why sometimes they were even given scripts, or else encouraged to improvise, if the words didn't matter a dime. The real detectives and forensic officers were the voices that demanded to be heard. They were placed central in the mix. And through their expertise, the corpse got to tell its story after all. So in the final reckoning he was always more mute even than the corpse.

But not today. Today he was dressed in a sheriff's uniform and armed with a badge. Yet he wasn't on any set, nor even on a location shoot. They may have been making shows where attention to the smallest detail was uppermost, but TV production companies were rather lax about their own security. And so he had smuggled out a uniform. Was the badge authentic? It would be good enough to gain him ingress.

The uniform he'd plucked meant that his next appearance would have to be in Texas. Inevitably, it would only be Texas or California. No point him stealing a uniform of law enforcement in Delaware or Oregon, the serious crimes there were too few and far between. No, thank god for the bloodlust of Tx and Ca.

He'd driven for three nights to get to the right county to match his assumed jurisdiction. He was proved correct when the combined authority of the uniform and badge granted him an invite across the threshold of the remote farmhouse. He withdrew the knife, (the gun that came with the borrowed uniform was only a replica) and plunged it into the belly of the man. The victim slumped to his knees, but the would-be killer knew that he had to move into overdrive. For he had to set the scene for the experts.

In the case of a home invader disturbed in the act, the tendency would be for a quick stabbing and then fleeing the scene, since the primary aim was burglary, not murder. The randomness of how the killer and the victim come to be brought together makes it hard for the police to get to the identity of the former, because there is no overt connection. But this is where his plotting kicked in. Though this was to be a stranger killing, he wanted to muddy the waters further, to throw the so-called professionals off the scent.

Hence he thrust the knife once more into his helpless victim. He tried to work up a frenzy of stabbing, but he found it tough going. (He had considered trying the act with his left-hand, but he wasn't confident that having never stabbed anyone before that he could successfully execute it wrong-handed). The knife seemed heavier and more resistant each time he tried to extract it from the man's flesh. He would have thrown up, had he not summoned up his old Stanislavski technique to offset the physical repulsion with some happier affective memories.

Finally the man toppled over fully and he listened for his death rattle as the breath ebbed away from him. Now came the time for full misdirection. The excess of sharp force trauma might suggest a psychopathic killer. He had idled with the thought of imitating an extant serial killer's MO, but he knew from the shows that copycats never quite reproduced the signature of their inspiration which always tripped them up as clumsy imitators. Besides, this was all about making his own voice heard for once, though of course no one was to know that it was his voice. He had also flirted with the notion of bringing misleading clues to drop at the scene, but his research had shown that The Manson Family's attempts to misdirect with random objects and bloody messages daubed in blood had ultimately helped guide the police to them. No extraneous props. They tripped murderers up as much as they did actors on stage.

He wanted to suggest that he and the murderee were in fact acquainted. But the bluff and counterbluff would be enhanced by pretending to cover it up as a stranger murder, like a home invasion gone wrong. Donning his gloves, he rifled through the house, careful to look as though he was searching for riches, but leaving obvious boons intact. Thus tipping off future investigators that robbery was not really the motive.

Then there was his mode of entry. While flashing his badge had allowed him unforced entry, he now had to counterfeit a burglar's entrance. He went to the French Windows and let himself out through them. You'd be surprised how many fools punch out the glass from the inside so the shards fall outside. Dead giveaway that it's been done after the event. Even those smart enough to punch out the glass from the outside, don't realise that the CSI guys can tell whether that glass has been walked on or remains pristine. If the latter, it means no robber came in through the windows. So he marched through the broken glass strewn across the carpet.

Satisfied with his own mental check-list, he peeled off his clothes and put them into a bag. He would conceal them in full-sight back at a TV studio, simply adding them to the laundry basket of soiled costumes. He wasn't sure if they were thoroughly cleaned or just thrown out as unusable. Those that had screen blood and gore caked on to them at least. And another benefit of dear old Texas, was that his wide-brimmed sheriff's hat had allowed him to secrete a hair net beneath, thus ensuring there were no stray strands of DNA-laden hair to betray him.

One final survey around the crime scene determined that his Method had been faultless. His only regret was that as the case was likely never to be solved, he had no chance of appearing in a programme reconstructing it in the future.

12 comments:

Helen said...


I wondered why he felt he wanted to do this crime. Was he trying to give himself a starring role?

Compulsive reading Marc.

Beverly Fox said...

Now there's a man committed to the craft! Wonder if he'll gain that evil look he's been going for now.

Katherine Hajer said...

I love the points about TX and CA -- loved the methodical nature of this whole thing. The Stanislavski line was a brilliant touch.

Larry Kollar said...

The frustrated actor strikes back. His methodical calm suggests insanity more than any wild wallowing in gore ever could. Will he go on to kill again? Brrr.

Nick Bryan said...

Chilling and clever. One of those flash stories that makes me want to see a sequel, or even a fleshed-out short story length version.

Icy Sedgwick said...

Oh my, this was astounding. I'd actually read a novel about this guy.

Eric J. Krause said...

Excellent story! Was he a bit loony before his (almost) failed acting career, or did that drive him to it? It obviously pushed him over the edge in any case.

inkyheels said...

I enjoyed this! Laughed out loud at: "No, thank god for the bloodlust of Tx and Ca." I almost feel bad for the lead character - almost.

Tony Noland said...

If only he put the same kind of work ethic into getting acting gigs.

Kath said...

I really admire the method in his madness and would love to know more behind his character's motivation and what brought him to this. Any chance you're thinking of enlarging upon his story, Marc? I thought this was an excellent story, great pacing and wonderfully-written, as always, but that was a killer last line.

brainhaze said...

wow gripping stuff. Great character building :)

Cindy Vaskova said...

I think he has reached the self-absorbed, over- confident maniac level. I suppose all of those murderers who were never caught had the same reason as him.

This was an interesting guide through the mind of the ordinary becoming "exceptional".