We asked the serial killer's ghost, did he bury the bodies in the crawlspace?
“No,” he said. “That was Gacy.”
Would we find bits in cupboards, under bricks? Had he threaded petals of human lips onto the window blind cords?
No. “That was that other one. I was much more creative.”
It took a long time to get the serial killer's ghost to talk. At first he only jumped out at us from hall closets. Once, I woke up and saw him with the kitchen shears, practicing his serial killer pose in the full length mirror. We coaxed him with a trail of brandy shots down the stairs and into the kitchen. We used paper cups; our snifters weren't unpacked yet.
The townies told us the serial killer had been suspected but never charged, had lived here all his life, had died in the attic. That's why we got the place so cheap.
We finally got him to sit still in a kitchen chair but he balked at our curiosity.
“You sure are some sickos,” he said. (Imagine! The nerve!)
He disappeared for a while, but we brought him back with cigarettes. Across the table late at night we watched his lungs expand with swirls of smoke as he told us his stories.
He told us the puppy story: once, as a child, he mowed the grass wrong, and as punishment his father made him watch while he sawed the ears off the new puppy with a bread knife. We thought we understood then why the lawn was always so nice. It was a pretty good story. But then he told us more stories, predictable stuff about bullies and dead cows and his mother's stockings. It went on and on. The serial killer's ghost followed us up the stairs when we got tired, sat on the foot of the bed, and kept talking. The serial killer's ghost didn't know he was boring. He did not know he was a disappointment.
Erica Mosley lives in the Missouri Ozarks. Her work has appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, The Austin Review's online Spotlight, A cappella Zoo, and elsewhere.