That place—that horrible apartment that sucked me in and then took everything away from me—is what I
blame for the beginning of the end of my sanity. My psychiatrist tells me it’s therapeutic to write down my
feelings and since I’m a novelist by trade, I thought it best to tell you my story.
I used to think being kicked out of the house was probably one of the worst days of my life. My wife and I had
been having trouble for quite a while before Rachel came into the picture. She was beautiful with porcelain
skin and piercing blue eyes. She was everything to me and I spent all my free time with her.
Mia used my desire to be with Rachel more than her as an excuse. Just because Rachel consumed most of my
entire waking moments, did not give Mia carte blanche to have an affair and blame me when our marriage
fell apart. That is precisely what happened six months after Rachel came along.
To say bickering and verbal wars are something that happened on a weekly basis seems a bit understated.
That's how it was before Rachel was born. For the first few months of her precious life, our world revolved
around Rachel. Mia and I put all of our energies into caring for our little girl and along the way avoided our
marital problems. I guess we hoped Rachel would pull us back together again. The reverse happened and my
love for our baby created a huge cavern—an abyss, if you will—in my marriage.
That’s how I ended up in the apartment—what I like to refer to now as the evil dwelling. Mia had an affair,
claiming I paid no attention to her and she had to find it elsewhere. She kicked me out and I rented a two
bedroom apartment on the top floor of a twelve story building at the outer edge of town. They say thirteen is
the unlucky number. I disagree; try living on the twelfth floor.
The day I looked at it, I immediately felt a sense of something out of place. In hindsight, I see it was more
than that; I felt like a shroud covered me as soon as I walked in the front door. The atmosphere was
disconcerting, but I cast my concerns aside and signed the lease. If I’d only known then what I came to find
out later, I would have high-tailed it out of there in seconds.
I need to stop analyzing my preceding perceptions and tell you what drove me to end up seeing a shrink. The
first few days I spent writing in my novel. I hadn’t even bothered to unpack. I’d wake up early in the morning
and finish penning my next great mystery novel late at night, barely stopping to eat. I think that’s why I didn’t
notice the weird things happening at first.
It was my third night there, and I was standing in front of one of the small windows to the side of the
fireplace. My mind was wandering to the murder suspect in the tale I was weaving, when out of the corner of
my eye, I saw a woman standing just out of the reach of the lamppost down below. When I focused on the
person, I saw her walking around the corner toward the front of my building. My living room windows looked
down over the side street. Even though I couldn’t explain it, I was a little uneasy. I figured it was my
overworked, maniacal, thriller mind at work, dismissed it and went to bed.
I woke up to my bedroom door being slammed against my bedroom wall, which I knew I closed before
retiring for the evening. I shot up in bed and a woman stood there. The hall light was shining into the
bedroom and I could see she was mouthing the word, ‘help.’
I must first assure you this is not a story about spirits or ghosts or anything like that. She was not an
apparition, she was real. At first glance, I thought she was just an elderly lady who walked into the wrong
apartment, but when I looked closer, blood was seeping out of the front of her nightgown.
I quickly strode over to help her and found a knife sticking out of her back. Immediately alarmed, I steered
her toward my bed and sat her down. I then rushed to the nightstand and grabbed my pistol. At the same
time, I grabbed the cordless telephone that sat next to my bed and dialed nine-one-one. I whispered into the
telephone to send an ambulance and the police then set the handset down, leaving the line open.
The woman slumped sideways down on my bed. I quietly left the room and surveyed the rest of the
apartment. The front door stood wide open. I could see that it had been jimmied, more than likely not the
handiwork of the injured woman.
To make a long story even longer, the police ascertained the killer was probably trying to break into my
apartment when the woman surprised him in the hallway. The explanation didn’t sit well with me. The
woman—whose name I found out later to be Gladys—died on the way to the hospital. She had been my
neighbor immediately to my left and I never knew it.
Days later, complaints from neighbors, including my own, began to rain down on the landlord. Smells beyond
anything I’d ever encountered lingered in the hallway of the twelfth floor. Units below were even accosted by
the stench. The smell was finally located in the last apartment at the end of the hallway on my floor.
I didn’t know the man who resided there and other neighbors claimed they hadn’t seen him in days. The only
thing I could tell the police was that he was a normal looking fellow. He was shorter than me and a bit stout
with brown hair; he was average. That’s what all killers look like, or at least that’s what the cops told me that
night. A person that is non-descript supposedly blends in well and very few people—if any—wouldn’t pay him
any mind. Other tenants in the building either could not remember him at all or gave completely different
descriptions than mine.
The woman living right next door said the smell was so bad she was gagging. The door was smashed in after
no one answered. It took dogs to sniff the apartment to find the bodies whose heads had been severed. They
were buried beneath the floorboards of the guy’s bedroom. There were six women. Identification—I heard—
was not going to be easy because the victims’ fingers had all been cut off and their heads and not yet been
They stationed policemen outside of the building and commandeered the woman’s apartment next door,
which she gladly gave up. They were waiting for the tenant to come back to arrest him. I had a feeling they
would be waiting a long time.
The heads were located three days later when a young boy was out walking his dog in the park next door. The
dog ran off and was found in the woods bordering the park. He dug up the heads. This young kid will probably
have nightmares for the rest of his life.
Finally the six victims were identified. That’s where I come in. You see, they were all previous tenants of my
apartment. I was questioned and harassed by not only the local police, but by the rest of the tenants on my
floor. My door was painted with the word killer and elevator doors were shut in my face. I didn’t kill these
women. They just happened to live in the same apartment. I tried to explain this to everyone, but no one
believed me. My wife filed for divorce and refused to allow me visitation of Rachel.
My psychiatrist tells me that lying to someone is one thing, but deceiving oneself is worse. I wasn’t fibbing to
anyone, least of all myself. As I predicted, the police found their serial killer. Their profilers led them right to
the person. They were dead on the mark, with the exception of one very important portion of their summation
they neglected to take into account.
First, I should probably tell you how I know all these details. I’m neither a cop nor a news junkie. I know
because Stan confessed everything to me. Every sordid facet of his evilness came out. He is the one who killed
my roommate Eliza and stabbed Gladys, the woman I found late at night in my apartment. He messed up the
doorjamb to make it look like someone broke in. He rented that place—that horrible place—in order to have
somewhere to stash the women’s bodies. He buried the heads. When I asked him why he did all those things,
he said it was because of Mia, the bitch—the one who broke my heart and threw me out of the house after she
had an affair.
I wasn’t responsible for Stan’s actions. Just because he lived inside my head doesn’t mean I should be
punished for his crimes. The jury didn’t believe me and now I sit on death row with no one to talk to but my
shrink. It’s all because of that place. If I hadn’t moved into that apartment, I think things would have been all
right. They wouldn’t have found me, but I ended up being too close to the bodies.
By: Starr Gardinier Reina