In this day of Hannibal Lechters and Jason Voorhies… um Voorhies’ses… you know what I mean. These days, there’s nowhere for an old fashioned “strangler” to ply his trade. That’s what used to terrify us, the mysterious and ambiguous “Lover’s Hill… street… something… strangler.” He was hiding in the shadows waiting to choke some unlucky person in a convertible, wearing his black golfing gloves and black turtleneck sweater… a real gentleman’s homicidal maniac. These days the killers dress in old winter sports equipment and rarely take the time to look for just the right hat.
I met with an old strangler last night. He was hanging out in a small coffee shop next to the senior center downtown. A lot of old killers congregate there and reminisce of a more civilized time. Times when you weren’t just a “guy with an axe” but you were a very important “axe murderer”… a time when nicknames were well-thought-out.
He ordered the banana pudding and sipped a coffee. His hands were wracked with arthritis and he couldn’t even strangle an earthworm. It was a bit like seeing the old lion at the zoo with his shabby coat and toothless snarl. Out of respect I didn’t turn my back to him at all. I think he appreciated the gesture.
“Strangling? That’s a young man’s game.” he’d say. “I don’t think much about it anymore. Oh sure, I’ll think about it now and again when I’m trying to wrench the lid off of a mayonnaise jar or when I’m squeezing the neck of a life-sized replica of a surprised looking human that I keep in my attic. Otherwise, I don’t pay it much mind.”
I, for one, feel safer knowing he’s off the streets and making potholders in a craft class.