By Graham Bowlin
Dear Blonde Camper from Bunk Ten,
First of all, I’d like to apologize for startling you. When I kicked open the door of your bunkhouse and stormed in, wildly hacking the place up (how foolish I must have looked to you then!), I thought that your friend, that nubile redhead, had been alone and showering. It was never my intention to awaken you, much less spatter you in her blood and then chase you through the woods.
Oh, blonde camper! …It feels so impersonal calling you that. May I call you Betsy? Betsy was my mother’s name. She was a strict but physically loving woman. I promise, I never meant to frighten you. The redhead was the one I wanted that moonlit night. Funny how our heart’s yearning can be so impetuous, so fickle.
You possessed such grace that evening, leaping sure-footedly over rocks and roots despite your long, diaphanous nightgown. As you sprinted through those trees, screaming and gasping for breath, something stirred in what may very well be my heart. Your free spirit, your zest for life, made an eternal impact upon me. Seeing you run from my imposing frame and whatever hellish killing tool I was currently wielding changed me. You changed me.
On a side note, dearest, you had me so aflutter that I can’t even remember what rough-hewn farming equipment I was slaughtering with that night, ha ha.
I’ll admit that my chasing you had first been motivated by nothing more than the everyday desire to hang you from the load-bearing beam in some farmhouse. But very soon it became something else entirely. I realize now that I wasn’t chasing the source of a brand-new woman suit. No, I was chasing my dreams. My future. Myself. All of it, I see now, lives in you.
Betsy, I’ll never forget the moment when you ripped away the mask fused to my burn scars, gazed upon my terrifying visage, and came to know hell itself. When my “eyes”, those lidless voids of unthinkable nullity met yours, I saw something flicker in your baby blues. Abject horror? Sure. Desperation? Definitely. But there was something else. Something I had never seen before. Love.
Yes, sweet Betsy, I looked into your sapphire eyes and saw love itself, the way it’s meant to be. From you I learned that love is not your mother, Dead Betsy, locking you in a basement and force-feeding you carrion in the name of St. Cathroe of Metz. Love is not the demon halfling that visits me in my sleep to mutilate my soul. No, Betsy, love is taking a barely-age-appropriate teenage girl tenderly in your arms, holding her close, and finally putting down the scythe. (I remember now, it definitely was a scythe.)
I hope that I have knifed this to the correct door of your psychiatric ward. If you do read this, dearest Betsy, I pray that your answer will be an invocation of love, but I understand that this choice is yours. Know, my darling, that I will wait for as long as it takes which, honestly, could be forever given my immortality granted from the Dark One in exchange for the blood of innocents.
No matter what you choose, I will always be there for you. (Not in a creepy way, ha ha.)
Otis Clovenhoof, Maniac
p.s. I should mention that I have two dogs, gorgeous labs named Sabrina and Jazzy. They’re like daughters to me and, if you’re not a fan, it’s kind of a deal breaker 🙁
By Graham Bowlin
Graham lives in L.A. but isn’t sure why. His work has appeared in Thuglit, Shotgun Honey, L’Allure des Mots, Needle and Crime Factory. Also, we have a letter from his psychiatrist assuring us he is harmless. Well, mostly harmless.