I can not recall moving into the house where I spent most of my adolescence. What I can remember is the joy I seen on my mother’s face as her and her new husband purchased their first home together. My step father was a good hard-working man, up before the sun every morning. Not only do I admire him, but he is also the man I call dad. My mother had come from a big, yet poor family and buying her first home was the first of many goals she was determined to accomplish. Suffice to say my childhood was normal enough for a kid in the 90’s.
The home was a “fixer upper” dad would say as we rode to the hardware store in his truck that I thought was a fixer upper too. “We got a great deal on this house, and we do a few things we’ll have a nice home,” he told my mother. He was right, the house was three stories at the end of a dead-end, sitting on over an acre of property. Not only was it three stories, but the upstairs and downstairs were both stand alone apartments, which he quickly rented out to friends and family.
I was young, not even in school, but what few friends I had made at our apartment complex were long gone. So when I met Robert we quickly became great friends. He was really tall and very easy to talk to. While my parents were going a hundred different directions working on the house, Robert would gladly listen my stories and tell me stories that he knew. A few months later I started school and made more friends, a few which lived in my neighborhood but none of them were as much fun as Robert.
I’m from the southeast and a blizzard is something that is unheard of, but in March of 1993 that is exactly what we got. It snowed for days something like four-foot of snow, suffice to say we were stranded and ill prepared. When the power went out my mother, father, and I tried walking to the gas station to get kerosene for our heater, but they were closed up. Our house had a real wood fireplace but dad never really seemed to go near it, let alone clean it out. When we did start a fire in it the birds nests and other debris caused the smoke to back up into the house leaving us in the cold. After a few hours of poking and prodding we finally had the chimney clean enough that it ventilated our home, but not before mom got cold enough to be pissed at dad. Later the same night, I was laying in bed, and with no power in the house I could overhear everything my parents said to each other.
“YOU SAID YOU CLEANED THE DAMN CHIMNEY AND YOU ALMOST KILLED US TODAY,” mom said in a voice louder than normal. Dad replied, “NO THE HELL I DIDN’T, I DIDN’T EVEN WANT TO USE THE FIREPLACE THAT’S WHERE IT HAPPENED.” She quickly retorted, “YEAH, THERE AND THE F*****G MASTER BEDROOM YOU GAVE MY SON BECAUSE YOU ARE TOO CHICKEN S**T TO SLEEP IN THERE.” What were they talking about? What had happened there on the fireplace and in my bedroom? I went over as many scenarios as my 8-year-old mind could before it drifted off to sleep. The next morning seemed normal enough, although I awoke naked as a jaybird and my parents were nowhere to be seen. I threw some pajamas on and as I walked through the living room toward the kitchen, I noticed Robert was sitting on the edge of the fireplace, and I immediately became ecstatic, with thoughts spending the snow day with him. When I approached him looked up and slightly grinned, but his demeanor was ominous and determined. “Where are your parents?” he said. “I don’t know, who cares anyways?” I replied. “WHERE ARE THEY, YOU BETTER NOT HAVE, I TOLD YOU NOT TO…” he shouted jumping to his feet. Robert had never shouted at me, and this upset me. He must have sensed that and quickly sat back down. He asked, “Do you wanna know what they were talking about last night?” “Y-yeah,” I stuttered through a sob.
“I lived here up until about three months before you moved in, I had a wife, until she betrayed me. I loved her so much, she was everything to me. That’s why I didn’t want anyone else to have her. So after she went to sleep I took a shotgun and put it to her temple. I didn’t think twice, just pulled the trigger. I knew I couldn’t live without her so I walked in the living room and clogged the fireplace the best I could, and started a fire. I sat here on the hearth and shot myself with a .44. I wanted the house to burn but I guess the fire went out.”
I was horrified and baffled but somehow I knew he was telling me the truth. I said, “Last night dad and mom were screaming at each other, about the fireplace being clogged. I remember laying in bed listening to them, then I fell asleep. I don’t remember anything else until I woke up.” He replied, “Stop lying to me, I watched the entire thing. When you moved in here I could sense the hatred in you, I’ve spent the last four years trying to convince you not to murder your family. I was the only person you’d tell these hateful and horrendous things happening in your mind. My stories were meant to bring you a peace and in turn remove me from purgatory by saving you but you’ve failed me, as I have failed you.” Robert looked into the fire and said, “You had potential kid, a good family who loved you, how could you do this?” I was no longer crying, my sadness had dissipated into anger… How dare he ask me that? After all he was the reason I did it… Right? He told me so many times, that my parents were so busy, and couldn’t spend time with me, he assured me he would always be there for me when they weren’t, I was convinced I didn’t need them. He convinced me.
As I write this, my final message to the world, staring it a barred window I try to convince myself that Robert was evil, but I’ve never been able to explain the other four people I was convicted of killing along with my parents.