“I could never kill someone, just don’t have it in me.”
We proclaim that loudly to ourselves in the daylight, that fiction. In the dark, it becomes a whisper, a fallacy we repeat to ourselves to help us keep seperate from those that do kill. You and I, we both know it for the lie that it is. Deep down, we all have a point, a line, a bar that we that know lurks inside. A tipping point. A line in the sand. A bar that we must hurdle, or perhaps slink under. You have one. They have one. The person sitting beside you, look at them closely for they have one.
That thing for which we would kill. That circumstance for which reason would step aside and allow you to take another life. If you don’t know at what point, which line, or where your bar is set, well, lucky you. It’s there, trust me. I found mine, bumped up against it, nudged it even. It wasn’t where I expected it to be, but it made sense to be there.
It was sleep that had driven me to the Plaza that day, a complete lack of it. Over the last two weeks the total hours of sleep my wife and I had accumulated together could comfortably be counted on one hand, so in order to give my increasingly delirious wife a chance to boost that number I’d brought the cause for a walk here. I had about two hours to get him out of the house, to sleep, and then return before he needed to feed again so here I was, walking these hallowed halls, the cathedral of capitalism, this memorial to materialism, all to put a newborn to sleep.
It had worked too. The mind numbing muzak had rendered us both senseless, the soporific effect in me held at bay only by a long black strong enough to eat its way through a paper cup. I walked the promenades, never ceasing in case the beast awoke to collapse the commercial catacomb with his caterwauling. And so we paraded, upstairs, downstairs, upstairs, downstairs, me dragging my feet, him in his black carriage, veiled from the prying public by the lightest of muslin.
As precarious as this arrangement was, it worked. Fellow slumber deprived wraiths circulated; we nodded our unkempt hair towards each other in silent acknowledgement of our shared plight as we conveyed our charges around the circumference of purgatory. We raised our adult sippy cups in salute as we celebrated yet another circuit sans crying. And so it went, downstairs, upstairs, round and round until on what may have been the trillionth time around, I found my tipping point.
There they were, walking nonchalantly towards me, cloaked in the skins of the kindly elderly lady. Your average gran, nanna, nonna, nemesis of the sleeping child. They whittered towards us, hair coiled Medusa-like, glittering a silver blue. With a sharp crystal-clear clarity, I knew then that if they lifted the veil, if they awoke the child, I knew that my line will have been crossed.
I hoped my sunken eyes, my listless perambulating would ward them off. That they would recognise the signs, do no more than nod and smile and walk on by and preserve whatever life they had left. Could they do it? Could they pass by a sleeping babe and leave it in peace?
No. They could not.
The first had barely leaned in when I decided to act. The glass shattered, catching the reflections from a million sequins as she went through the window of a pre-teen stationery crack den, a hundred strawberry scented pens skewering her frail body. Before she could begin to squeal, I sent the second over the railing to plunge downwards, ever downwards towards her end. A damp thud signalled her demise amidst the cupcake stand on the lower level. Dark red velvet frosting oozed out from underneath her body, neck angled in a wholly disconcerting manner as her arms draped over the espresso machine, her support stockinged feet dangled in the gluten-free muffins rendering them no longer vegan friendly.
A quick peep into the pram to assure myself that my son was still sleeping, and then onwards we walked, lap after lap, to fill the next hour before feeding.
Not that I did this, I’m not a monster. Of course I didn’t. I could never kill someone, just don’t have it in me. How could I possibly send two dear elderly women to an early and vicious demise? I’m no barbarian.
Well, that’s what I tell myself in the darkness of night, Jupiter rising in the top left quadrant of bars in my window. It’s what I tell myself in an attempt to keep me morally seperate from the other guys in here, the real murderers, the ones who could and did. The ones with a much lower bar, a closer line, a more unstable tipping point.
Unfortunately, the CCTV remembers it differently, it captured it all, in colour, in high res. The glittering shards. The grand entrance into frame from the promenade above. The noiseless screams, the soundless panic. The echos of that thing that I could not possibly have done, but yet did. The reverberations spreading every outwards of that damp thud, the shattering glass. The girl behind the register in the cupcake stand, she’ll never be able to look a white chocolate and raspberry cupcake in the frosting ever again. As for the eleven year old twins in the sub-adult stationery supplier, you should insert a shiver here. The waft of strawberry scent substitute will forever send them recoiling in search of their happy place.