Read by Max Berendt
3 – Children, you were the middle one, sandwiched between two sisters. You were the only boy but you were never good enough, never clever enough, never strong enough, never man enough.
4 – Years of age, when your father took a belt and beat you with it. Your earliest memory.
4,1 – Fingers and a thumb, curled into a fist when there weren't any belts, or brooms, or shoes to hand. You counted each bruise, wore them as badges of shame, the blood soaking deeper each time.
4,1 – Fingers and a thumb, squeezed beneath your underwear, where they weren't supposed to be but you couldn't say stop and there was no one you could tell, stuck in a truck with a friend of the family while he did things to you that you didn't understand.
3 – Months, spent working as a mortuary attendant after you ran away from home. You slept behind the embalming room, dreaming in amongst the dead. One evening you crept inside a coffin and embraced the corpse of a young man. You left the job and drove home the next day.
9 – Months, the time you spent courting your first wife. To her, you were diligent, hardworking, an upstanding, respectable member of society. For a time, you were happy together.
3 – Fried chicken restaurants, bought by your father-in-law, an offering of provision, an olive branch. You managed them well.
15 – Years, the age of the victim of your first known sexual offence. You abused, exploited, blackmailed, seduced him. He couldn’t fight back but he had the courage to tell someone.
300 – Dollars, paid to one of your employees for a special assignment. You told him where to find your accuser, to beat him into submission.
17 – Days, the time it took for doctors to diagnose you with anti-social personality disorder.
10 – Years, the length of your sentence. On the day you were convicted, your wife petitioned for divorce. Inside you were the model inmate, toeing the line, even running the Jaycee group. It flourished under your leadership.
3/20 – The fraction of your sentence you actually served.
2 – Days, the time between your father's death and when you found out. You broke down in prison, begged for compassionate leave to go to the funeral. They refused.
8213 – West Summerdale Avenue, the home you shared with your second wife, the land you would transform into a burial site.
8 –Times you plunged the knife into the first boy's chest. You thought he was attacking you so you defended yourself. You went too far but it felt good, made you feel things you’d never felt before.
2 –Places set at the breakfast table that morning. He had been using the knife to slice bread and bacon. You left the places unused and untouched while you dragged the body down into the crawl space.
1972-1978 – The span of your career.
29 –Bodies found under your house; strangled, buried in dirt and mud, quicklime and cement. You used boys from your fried chicken business to dig the graves because you couldn’t be bothered to do it yourself.
4 – More bodies, dumped in the Des Plaines river.
19 – Their average age
12/22/1978 – The date of your confession.
300 – Hours, time you spent in psychiatric evaluation.
4 – Hours, the duration of the prosecution’s closing statements.
2 – Hours, the time needed for the jury to make their decision.
14 – Years, spent on death row with appeal after appeal, process and procedure droning on and on. You knew they were all wrong, and you studied the legal documents yourself, trying to find the flaws in the case.
18 – Minutes, the time it took for them to kill you. It should have been less but they botched the job, fumbling with straps, tubes, toxic chemicals.
3 – Words, the last you ever spoke: kiss my ass
0 – The fucks you gave
0 – The apologies you made
0 – The abnormalities found when they studied your brain
x – The reasons why
(c) Anton Rose, 2017
Max Berendt studied drama at Manchester University and trained at Mountview. Theatre credits include The Trial (BAC: Total Theatre Award), Peer Gynt (Arcola), Journey’s End (West End), and The Devil is an Ass (The White Bear). Max works regularly as a voiceover artist and in immersive theatre, most recently in Door in a Wall's Appetite for Murder.