Monday, October 31, 2005

People Can Lick Hands, Too

For her ninth birthday, Maria had all of her friends over for a slumber party. There was face painting, and pillow fights, and corn chips, and everyone heartily agreed that it was the best party all year. They even stayed up past midnight! Eventually, the girls got very tired and climbed into their sleeping bags in the rec room. A couple girls stayed up telling gossip and ghost stories while the others slept, but eventually they, too, fell asleep. Everyone except Maria. She was too excited to sleep from all the festivities, and she had never been able to fall asleep if she was near other people who had. Their breathing kept her awake, reminding her that they were doing what she should be. So, when she was very tired but unable to sleep, she tiptoed up to her room, where she would be more comfortable. Her dog, Chips, bounded into bed with her and laid at her feet. In the comfort of her own room, it did not take long for Maria to fall asleep, but after only an hour or two, a strange noise woke her. In the dark, she listened for footsteps or doors opening, but there was nothing. Chips, her dog, licked Maria's hand until she fell asleep. In the morning, Maria awoke alone in her room with the door ajar. She moved into the hallway, and was spooked by the utter silence of the house. Passing her parents bedroom, she noticed something amiss, and looked in only to find them both gruesomely murdered in their bed. Scared, Maria ran downstairs and discovered that all of her friends had been butchered in the rec room. And there, by the door, was Chips, with a knife sticking out of him, and a note pinned to his blood-matted fur that read "People can lick hands, too." For years, after the murderer was caught and put on trial, while moving from orphanage to orphanage, as the subject of intense media scrutiny as the tragic victim at the center of the decade's most violent crime, Maria thought often of this note. It seemed like an especially dicky thing to do, after murdering everyone she loved and her dog. So when Cole Wayne Dobbs was finally executed, she really didn't feel bad. She thought about that note and figured he deserved it, if only for being so disgustingly grandiose, although, in general, she felt that capital punishment was morally questionable.


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