He Killed the Devil’s Son
María stepped through the door of her patient’s apartment and stifled a gag. She dropped her clipboard and binder filled with notes about the young man who lived here and had to physically hold her mouth closed so she wouldn’t regurgitate all over the floor. Not that it could have made the place more disgusting than it already was, but that was beside the point. She composed herself and grabbed her belongings from the floor, wiped the hot tears of revulsion that had formed in her eyes, and continued in. María knew that she would encounter all types of people when she decided to focus on a career in social work, but she admitted to herself that this was beyond anything she’d ever imagined. “My God…”, she whispered to herself, and she thought now about how God would not allow such a place to exist.
María’s patient was a tough case. Absent parents, a history of abuse and neglect, and from what she could tell a significant disdain for authority, in all things. She had been assigned to him when the court decided he would require a mental health check to determine if he was clinically insane or not - María worked both in court proceedings as well as trying to help the patients concerned, but she’d never seen something like this. She hadn’t yet met the man; his name is Ellis, but she’d spoken with him on the phone and from what she could tell he was extremely reserved. He was also quite nasally, which stood out to María and after a little digging she discovered that the septum in his nose had ruptured during his arrest. During their conversation he’d kept repeating, “son of the devil…son of the devil”. She saw now what kind of environment someone who would kill a child, apparently for the sole reason of being a politician’s son, would live in.
The stench came from something dead or dying, that much María knew, and she had barely moved through the piles of old newspapers and moldy leftovers when she saw what it was. There were rats, hundreds of them, in a roughly made plastic cage with holes on the top. She could only imagine at this point what purpose these poor animals once served, but she realized Ellis must have been feeding them, because they were still only freshly dead. She continued on towards where she thought Ellis’s room might be. When she walked in, she first noted that there was practically no furniture anywhere else in the apartment. No pictures, no entertainment centers or televisions; it was as if he had only the dirty mattress in his room and the desk with his notebooks.
She looked next to the walls and her jaw fell open. It was as if Ellis had used every newspaper from the last century for wallpaper. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of clippings lined the room, peeling in some places to reveal the shabby walls behind. María stepped closer to try and get a better look at the clippings. She froze after reading only one. It seemed to be from a small paper, some fringe-type ‘sensational’ news that used headlines as lures. It described the comings-and-goings of the politician whose son Ellis had murdered, and María decided to look more. As she looked further and further, she found herself dismayed by the implications of the clippings. Like the first, some were from sources she knew to be untrustworthy, but the more she looked she realized several came from credited news companies and other researched origins. They all connected the politician to some conspiracy or other strange event. She pulled one that described the connections the politician had to a trafficking ring that had been busted sometime in the last five years. María stood looking at clippings for what could have been hours, reading as each one revealed more and more than the last. She felt cold and confused. Why was this news not making daily headlines? The data Ellis had compiled alone would be enough for a trial. María thought then of how aggressive the prosecution had been with the notion that Ellis be charged but with criminal insanity attached, which was odd because that would usually be pushed for by the defense. Unless they wanted him to be labeled crazy, she thought to herself. This thought appalled her, so much so that she spoke out loud to herself, almost as reassurance, “Why would he kill a child, then? That’s never helped anyone’s cause.” She heard a faint grunt, almost like someone clearing their throat, saw a pair of broken handcuffs being thrown beside her from behind, and froze once again. The nasally voice coming from the back of the room, covered in darkness (and not yet examined by María) spoke up in a low, almost remorseful tone.
“I was aiming for the father, not the son.”