Authors: Jackie Barrett
, I thought as I sat on my closet floor with tears in my eyes.
Yes, it is possible
. They interact with us every day. They come to us in our dreams. They influence our decisions. They give us clues. We use the phrase, “I had a feelingÂ .Â .Â .” They live alongside us. They love.
*Â *Â *
Sometimes, when I talked to Eddie on the phone, he would answer my questions about his planning and his crimes.
“How does it feel, Jackie, asking me questions and knowing all the things I have done? Only we knowÂ .Â .Â . I can hear your voice change when we talk about the screams, the little animals, the women and men. It's inside of you now, tooÂ .Â .Â . Did you know when someone screams hard enough from the gut, the extreme panic yaks over and you foam from the mouth like a wild dog. Wild, right?”
Before Eddie found Patricia, his prized soul, he would walk dark alleys and stare into corners and windows, looking for the right victim. He would climb trees and look down on potential prey. The hunt was on. He told me he had done so many things, to so many people. Things the police didn't know about. They had no idea what he was capable of.
Like the evening he decided to lurk outside an apartment building. A man came out with a little dog on a leash. When the man turned to go back inside, he carefully aimed his gun and pulled the trigger. The door swung shut behind the man, but it was all glass, so he could watch the suffering as the man fell to the ground. He wasn't dead, but he was in pain, so Eddie had been at least somewhat successful. And the fear in the dog's face as his master collapsed was even better.
He watched carefully. He was curious to see how the man would struggle. And it was fascinating to see the loyal little dog sitting next to him, barking the whole time. He wanted to get close enough to watch his victim's eyes lose color and turn gray as he took his last breath, but it was not to be. He walked away, wanting more.
He began to practice his shooting. He would go sit near the highway by Highland Park and fire at passing cars. He shot at police vehicles a couple of times, always slinking off before he was discovered. He took target practice in bad neighborhoods littered with abandoned cars. The bullets on metalâping, ping, pingâconfirmed his aim. He set fire to a few of the clunkers, just because he felt like it.
He sauntered through Times Square several times and enjoyed asking the cops what time it was. Like he was an ordinary guy. He even asked them if they had any clues about the Zodiac Killer yet. That was particularly amusing.
And then he expanded his plans. He wanted to increase his body count tenfold. New York was full of places that were always packed with people. He spent the years after his Central Park shooting sizing up his city's landmarks. He considered Rockefeller Center, with its double bonus of office workers and tourists. He thought he could shatter the windows with a slingshotâthat would be terrifying. He made a big one of solid wood and carved the Gemini sign into it. It could fling a six-pound rock. And then he was patient. He planned to wait until Christmas, when the whole place was packed with revelers, ice skaters using that famous rink, people gawking at the Christmas tree. Crowds of people made him smile, especially when they were running for their lives. But the flying rock would only be a diversion. He would plant pipe bombs in the lockers at the side of the ice rinkâthat would be the real show.
He thought about the Empire State Building. He rode to the top and looked out through one of the telescopes. The view was beautiful, and he saw in his mind's eye the change he could make if he bombed itâthe smoke and the chaos, the fire trucks trying to get through the choked streets, the screaming victims. It made him feel young and powerful.
Neither of these plans ever came to fruition, thank God. But he made his own bombs, just like he made his own guns, using instructions from military books and catalogs. And he prowled the city looking for the best places to put his handiwork. The sewer system, the manholes, schools, the posts where cops stood. He walked the subway tunnels and noticed the homeless people who lived deep in their depths. He set a few fires there, hoping to burn someone, but never knew whether he actually had.
He set several bombs in the subway tunnels and listened to them go off as he stood back by the station turnstiles. He was pretty sure he hadn't successfully hurt anyone, but at least he got the terrified reactions he wanted. He carefully mapped out all sorts of other potential locations. If he could hit them all, his kill count would be up into the thousands. Nice stacks of body parts, everywhere.
When he needed a rest from his bombs and his maps, he would break into houses. Any little crackâan open window, an unlatched basement doorâhe would slip through and then just sit. Once, a family ate dinner upstairs while he lurked below and listened. He said he loved spying on people. He loved that they did not know how close the devil was.
*Â *Â *
One night in 1994, as he sank deeper and deeper into the devil's world, Eddie told me that he lay in bed in his little room, yelling and hitting himself, but the beast would not leave. And then he heard laughter. It was his laugh, and he turned to see himself sitting at the small school desk near the bed.
“Get up, you coward, and listen to me. You welcomed me and I heard you. You asked me to guide you and I did.” He was no longer laughing. “You asked me to protect you from those pigs, those cops, and I did. You got caught, you fool with a gun. And what did I do? Did I run and leave you? Did I run under your mother's skirt? No! I made sure your fingerprints didn't show up when they threw you in jail. I made sure your gun didn't work. They held you the whole day in lockup. You telling me, âThat's it, I'm caught.'
“I got you outÂ .Â .Â . the Zodiac lives. They opened that cell and you walked out free, thanks to Lucifer, your angel. And they gave you back the gun that worked the minute you walked out of that jail.
“Just thinkÂ .Â .Â . I helped you become the dark sky over the city of New York. And you forsake me now? Stand up! Put that mask on and look through that mirrorânot in it, but through it! Look at your army of souls.
“I own you. We shall always be together. My flesh is yours.”
Eddie got out of bed, stood in front of the mirror, and became the devil's son. Eddie was so small now that heâthis powerful force in front of the mirrorâcould put him in his pocket. So he did. And he went forth again. And he never looked back. His next victim, he remembered, was a pathetic homeless man in an abandoned car. He set it on fire. He loved fire; it left nothing behind. He had done that man a favor, too.
*Â *Â *
He took joy, I think, in letting me know all of his secrets.
“I used to go into the confession booth in church to throw up on the priest,” he laughed. “Father, I have sinned! I'd throw all those bodies up right on his back, like a big blood cross, yeah, let him carry it around. I left, feeling the hunger again and again.
“It's easy telling you. Seems like you knew by looking inside of me. Or just maybe me being in you! How many times have you run into the devil, Jackie? How many times can you get away?”
I tried to distance myself, knowing that he was looking for that crack, that weakness we all haveâat least those of us with a conscience. Because, of course, he didn't have one himself.
“Did you ever see someone trapped in a car blazing up, banging on the windows, trying to escape? People not so far away in their own world, high on drugs, playing music, taking a shit. It was an everyday thing in Highland Park. Come on, not one person knew what I looked like. I sat right alongside all those people.”
I knew that. He walked where he chose, and no one remembered him. Why didn't he get caught? He laughed at my question like a shy little boy. “I was doing those pigs a favor. Cleaning up the streets for them. They would immediately blame it on drug warsÂ .Â .Â . That park was a nest for any drug you wanted and the filth that came along with it. Whores, pimps, pushers, addicts that would blow you for a quarter or less. I remember looking to sit on a benchâwaiting for a fresh piece of meatâand was I fucking hungry. You have to watch where you sit. Damn cum on the bench. Some people have no pride. Probably some junkie getting someone off for some loose change. Piss and shit all over. And you think those cops want to come into that world and get their hands dirty?”
When the police first saw Patricia's body slumped against a fence, they thought it was another overdose, he said, laughing. “How the fuck could you think that?”
He talked about several of his crimes during our conversation.
“And the man walking his dog, Jackie, I shot him not to kill him but to watch him squirm, beg for helpÂ .Â .Â . Down he went in his own liquid life, that red, thick fluid that keeps us alive. I did that around 1992. That was just a quickie. You know, a fast fix. If you compare it to sexâbecause it felt so goodâthat was only measuredÂ .Â .Â . like a blow jobÂ .Â .Â . It was a tease to my bloodlust. I didn't even bother to see if it made the papers. More happens than most know. Do you think everything was reported? Plus, the pigs don't want to let everything out. They have to save something that only the perpetrator would knowâlike taking a body part.”
I shuddered. “Did you ever take a body part?” I asked.
“NoâI take the whole body and soul. I'm a true collector. Now, some who kill only women may take the panties or snip a nipple off, just oneÂ .Â .Â . but I'm not prejudiced. Everyone is game. When a wild animal hunts, it doesn't say, âI can only kill a deer.' Anything that moves is hunted.
“I traveled around the city a lot. Watching people, the daily routines, even what they wore on what days. Who goes to lunch on certain days in certain restaurants. When the cops took breaks. I knew when certain people got paid. Watching the girls spend their checks on makeup and silk stockings. I thought about those silky stockings going all the way up those legs. I would love to split herâall of themâin half, like gutting a cow. Just had a thoughtâwouldn't that make an identical twin? Two halves make a whole, right?”
He went on.
“JackieÂ .Â .Â . where do all the people go when they are missing? Where are they?”
“They die, Eddie,” I said.
“Very good,” he replied. “If you have a mark, you'll only get blamed for the mark. Like the Boston Strangler, I'm sure there were other victims but they couldn't prove it. If you break into a woman's home and kill by strangulationÂ .Â .Â . but what about if you kill on the street by a gunshot? Oh, that must be a different predator. You're right, Jackie, I am a lethal weapon. I never stopped killing. Just because I didn't leave a letterÂ .Â .Â . The pipe bombs I tested in the subway worked [but] I didn't leave a letter on the platform. Don't you see, I come from all directions at any time. That's the frightening part. You will never know where I am. But for you, Jackie, just look under your bed.”
How many people do you need to take down a city, he asked me. Only one, he said. And how many task forces do you need to find him? A lot, because it would take a big group of highly intelligent people to find that one man. Why? Because cops aren't born to kill. They're trained. “Makes a big difference. Just like you, Jackie. How many people could do what you do or see what you see? We can be twins. I'll give you the clues, and you try to stop me.”
Another birthday. Will and Joanne always went all out on my special day, and they didn't disappoint this year. Will woke me with flowers and breakfast in bed. I sat up carefully as he came in, keeping the covers over me. I knew my nightly prowl would show on my aching feet. Most mornings they were covered in dry blood and caked dirt. It wasn't my dirt or blood, it was Patricia's, and for each mile I walked on her feet, I did feel that I was closer to understanding. My nocturnal travels certainly hadn't gone unnoticed by my husband, but today I didn't want to show off the evidence and ruin whatever he had planned for the day.
As I pulled myself up in bed, something knocked against my hand. I peeked under the covers and the smell of booze hit me. An empty fifth of whiskey lay against my side. I had no memory of getting it, or drinking it. I don't drink, never have. The intoxicating liquid that quieted Patricia's restless mind would only stir mine like a pot of boiling gumbo.
I slid the bottle under my pillow when Will wasn't looking and sniffed my own breath. Nothing. I sighed in relief. I hadn't had any whiskey. But still, I couldn't let Will see this. I took the tray of food in order to mask my anxiety. How would I hide all of this?
“Can't a girl get a shower?” I said, shooing him out.
“You win,” he laughed. “But hurry, we have a whole day planned.”
As soon as the door closed behind him, I threw back the covers. Pillows went flying as I searched for any other souvenirs of my night. There was nothing else in the bed. Slowly, I knelt down to look underneath. I felt silly, like a kid checking for the monster under the bed after mommy says good night. I pulled up the bed skirt, and the silliness evaporated in a cloud of horror.
A woman lay flat on her back, with her arms crossed upon her chest. Her face was deathly pale. She was wearing my clothes. I gagged at the smell of the decomposing body and clamped my hand over my mouth. I could not comprehend how she had gotten there. At times like this, it is virtually impossible to hold a thought in one's head. I sure couldn't. My brain just froze. I don't know how long I crouched there, staring at this corpse in my clothes.
And then she burst out laughing.
“I got you that time, Jackie. You should have seen your face!”
Anger melted my frozen brain. I reached under the bed and grabbed at Patricia.
“Come on, get out! Get my goddamn clothes off. I'm going to call the cops!”
“Go ahead,” she cackled. “They'll think you're crazy and put you away. They can't see me!”
She rolled out from under the bed, talking about how the two of us liked to hang out with her friends in the park at night. I mingled well, she told me, as she sat down on the bed and started in on my breakfast, moving food around my plate.
“Jackie, come here. This is good shit. Look, you have a silver spoon, isn't that sweet? And crispy bacon.”
I sank down on the bed, put my head in my hands, and begged her to get out of my life.
“I'm not in your life,” she yelled at me. “You're me, Jackie. You gave me life back! I have Will, too. Soon I will be whole again, alive.”
“What do you want? Just tell me,” I pleaded. If I helped her, I suddenly thought, maybe I could save myself. I had started out wanting to do just thatâsolve whatever problem she hadâbut these horrible months with her had made me so angry. I hated her. But if I could tamp down my rage and get her cooperation, maybe I could save her, and she would go away. Then I would be saving myself, too.
“It's not that easy,” she said. She finally sat still and a tear fell, hitting the bed. “I was lost, and you found me.”
“You can't stay,” I said.
She stood and started to cry as she walked backward into a corner of the bedroom. She kept going and just faded away. I was left sitting on my bed with bacon scattered all over and her sobs ringing in my ears.
I picked up the mess that was my birthday breakfast, shoved the empty liquor bottle into my purse, and dragged myself to the shower. All I wanted was to wash off all the dirt. I had absolutely no memory of what had taken place the night before. God knows what I had done.
I was in there so long, the bathroom filled with steam. I got out, wrapped myself in a towel, and was about to wipe off the mirror when someone grabbed me from behind. One arm wound around my waist and the other hand wrapped around my throat. I saw black gloves through the steam. His nose and mouth pressed against the back of my neck, and he sniffed me like an animal would.
“JackieÂ .Â .Â . it's your birthday.” The tall man in black began to sing very slowly. “Happy Birthday to youÂ .Â .Â . Happy birthday to youÂ .Â .Â . Happy birthday dear JaneÂ .Â .Â . oopsÂ .Â .Â . JackieÂ .Â .Â . I mean PatriciaÂ .Â .Â .”
He giggled and then bit down on my ear.
“This is your life,” he said through clenched teeth. “Feel me. Breathe me. As long as she stays, I follow. I am your dark, depraved secret. You will answer my calls. You will feed me the knowledge I request.”
I closed my eyes. Over and over in my head, I pleaded with myself to wake up.
He can't hurt me; he's in prison; he can't hurt me.
He went still, as if he could hear my thoughts. His voice changed from the giggly to the demonic.
“You want to kill, like me,” he rumbled. “You want revenge. That poor little girl, that sweet little girl. How easy it was, like taking candy from a baby.
“And that other one. Ha! You know, if you didn't let her in, the world would have never remembered her. The insane asylum misses her. But we can fix that. You will take her place. Oh, that white jacket with those really awesome leather restraints would look so sexy on you.” He rubbed against me. “How cozy we can be.”
His grip tightened. The sound of squeaky wheels filled the bathroom.
“We all have desires, Jackie,” the tall man in black said. “You know, your ghostly friend that jumps in and out of you, yeah, that party girlâshe took a liking to Will. Oh, your big savior, your protector! I heard he got all lovely with her. You going to let him get away with that? Fucking around on you with a dead woman?”
The rusty wheels got closer. Louder. I turned to see, and I was alone in the bathroom. He was gone, but I knew that his grip on me remained.
A knock on the door startled me.
I let Joanne in, and she wished me happy birthday with a big hug. The right kind of hug. She pulled away and looked at me. “What's wrong? You okay?”
I just had to ask her. “What happened last night? Was I out? Was I home before Will got in?”
She was puzzled, I could tell.
“What? You and Will were downstairs in the lounge.”
She said she had gotten home from her date at midnight, and we were downstairs playing Christmas music and laughing like teenagers.
“It was good to just hear you two having fun. It's been a long time.”
But it wasn't me.
“Lock the door and sit down,” I said as her worried look grew worse. “It's that woman. I can't shake her. Most of the time, I'm not me.”
Joanne protested. “You had a party last night. You and Will. I heard it!”
Knowing that words wouldn't explain it, I grabbed her hand and took her downstairsâto see what had happened at this “party.” The Christmas tree was out. Glitter and ornament balls were all over. Tinsel had been flung all over my cherished artwork. Someone had taken a lot of glee in “decorating.” But it hadn't been me. I always procrastinated for as long as I could every year, because getting out the decorations meant going into the garage and digging past all the other things I had in storage down thereâlike all of the things Eddie had sent me, and a bunch of other boxes, full of letters from other serial killers who've written me. But this year, someone had obviously done it for me in late November, and they had done a spectacularly bad job.
“What a freaking mess! I did this? No way. This isn't me! Look at this mess!” I do not do messes. This had to be fixed. Right then.
“Jo, can you please tell Will to give me an hour? I have to clean this up.”
“Let me help you,” she smiled. She ran to the intercom and told Will that we were doing “girl stuff” and would be done soon. My husband, no fool on that score, got the message and stayed away.
As we picked everything up, I asked her if she had been seeing anything strange.
“Us? You've got to be kidding,” she said. She had a point. Everything about us was strange. “Our lives are haunted!” she said. “As in, no matter where we go or how far or fast we runâit's there before we are. I used to think when I was young that it was our home. Every home we hadâfrom fancy doorman buildings, to big old houses, to new ones just built.”
She had seen some things, that was for sure.
“Mom,” she said. “We'll get through this.”
I did not share her certainty.
“Joanne, promise me one thingÂ .Â .Â . don't let me go.”
Now she looked frightened. She grabbed my hand like a small child would.
“Never, MomÂ .Â .Â . neverÂ .Â .Â .”
*Â *Â *
I would try to quiet the battle in my head by writing things down.
I have an enemy who lives in my head.
She crawls at night into my bed.
She holds me tight, clinging to a thread.
Enemy, enemy, yes, you are dead.
Enemy, enemy who now lives inside,
After all of this, I have not a place to hide.
You came to see the world through me
After his killing spree.
Fragments of my life sprinkled around,
As you fell hard to the ground.
The party ended,
The lights turned down,
The killing man still walks around.
But even my poetry would get taken over by Patricia.
I see no fortune or fame,
Only a hundred holes, and he is to blame.
My name is Patricia, and I am alive.
In you I shall reside.
No one will know, no one could see,
With you, we can be all three.
Little girl, little girl, don't come in.
Run, run, while I'll eat my sin.
Enemy I am notÂ .Â .Â .
Just a girl the world forgot.
At this rate, a mental institution was not far off for me, I knew. Either I had to put Patricia back where she belonged, or both of us were going to end up in a straitjacket.
*Â *Â *
The caller ID said Great Meadow again.
He'd had to lay low in between the shootings, Eddie explained. That was when he made his own map of the city, dotted with targets. And what if he had succeeded with his bombs?
“I would have laid low for another few years. Maybe a nice town, one of those quiet little country towns where door locks don't exist. Maybe work in a church. Clean-cut, no tattoos, no ponytails. Just a nice guy everyone wants to meet. I told you, Jackie, right under the nose. Now, that's the greatest trick. Just don't stand out.”
But that is not what happened. Eddie made himself very noticeable, and he got caught. “What happened that day?” I asked.
That day in 1996, his bedroom was full of bombs and guns, Eddie told me, because the next day, he planned on taking down the city. He was trying to prepare, but his sister and her boyfriend were in the apartment. Music was playing loudly, and he couldn't think straight. For the first time since this had all begun, he was getting nervous. His sister making all that noise was fucking him up. A rage came over him, and a voice yelled in his head. “Kill her and that boyfriend now.”
He started to bang his head against the wall. He didn't want to. He yelled, “No!” and the mapâthe routes to all of his bombing locationsâcaught fire, even though there were no lit candles or open flames in the room. He did shoot his sister, but his deal fell apart anyway. The devil turned him in.
*Â *Â *
“Why couldn't anyone describe you or identify you?” I asked.
“You're not listening to me. The devil has his way of making you see what he wants. Let's face it, if he didn't, I would have been caught a long time ago. Remember, I'm just a low-grade killer, right?”
I asked him what he meant by that.
“Who am I? I had no money. No education. No food. I lived in the projects. No father. No fancy clothes. Nothing but everything. Unstoppable. The day I signed that paper [with] the mark of the Zodiac, it was something out of this world. Like I had a twin. One body, two people.” He went on about the devil helping him to appear differently. “I was face-to-face with many. They still couldn't remember. They thought it was a black man because that's what people sawÂ .Â .Â . I left notes in the beginning, giving them clues. I was opening the gates in the sky. Putting spells on those notes. Nothing is what it seems. Then my lust for blood was so strong, I was thinking about drinking it, too, [but] I didn't care for the flavor of the weak bastards.”