The blade slowly pierced her stomach. Jan could feel the metal go deeper and deeper as she began to tremble. She was going into shock, she guessed. Despite the excruciating pain, she smiled. She could see this was unsettling to Joe, her oldest by two minutes. Though he was a disappointment to her, it didn’t matter now. She would die fulfilled because Jeff, Joe’s twin, had not failed her. She tried to tell Jeff how happy he had made her but only spit up blood as she gasped for air. The blood stuck to her long, silver hair. Jeff stood in between his mother and his brother, the bloody butcher knife hanging heavy in his hand.
As she clung between life and death, she recalled the day she made the decision. It was after repeatedly being taunted in high school, to the point that she had contemplated suicide on more than one occasion. Stuck in the house one summer because her doped up mother refused to let her out, other than to buy packs of cigarettes for her, she rummaged through some old things in the attic. A yellowed envelope with the return address of a prison fell out of an old book. It was addressed to her mother and postmarked 1974. She would have been 5 years old at the time. Sitting on an old, rusted mattress frame she learned that the letter was from her father. He was in prison for murder, several in fact, and was in for life. Her mother never talked about her father, never really told her anything about him. It was then she realized why.
A few weeks after finding the letter, Jan confronted her mother about the contents of it. She told her she wanted to visit her father in prison. Shocked by the request, her mother tried to dissuade her by explaining what a monster he was. That was confusing to Jan. For as long as she could remember her mother was a pothead with little concern for her daughter. Jan began pushing and shoving her as she had seen plenty of men do. Her mother, scared and crying, finally gave in and told her all of the information she needed to make contact with him. That same day, she sent a letter to her father letting him know that she finally knew about him and wanted to meet him. Within a week of receiving her letter, he responded and invited Jan to the prison. Once she made contact with her father she felt at peace. With his round glasses and salt and pepper hair, he seemed more like a chemistry professor than a mass murderer. He understood her and offered her advice to deal with the bullies at school. She asked him about the murders he was accused of committing and he told her everything. She knew why he murdered, how he did it and more importantly the feeling he got with each kill.
The longer her father was in prison, the more depressed he got. He knew he would never be able to kill again. Jan wanted desperately to help her father. They talked of breaking him out but no plan seemed plausible. He had another idea, he told her. He wanted to keep the lineage alive with a grandchild. Jan was only 16 and hadn’t even been with a boy yet. She told her father this and he explained that that didn’t matter, he would find her someone appropriate. The next week she found herself in a room alone with another serial killer. The conjugal visit lasted only 15 minutes but was enough to render her pregnant.
The pregnancy was hard, carrying twins meant several months of bed rest. Mortified at the thought of her daughter carrying a murderer’s child, her mother kicked her out. By then homeless. and seven months pregnant, Jan moved in with her unborn children’s aunt. No matter how sick she felt, she kept up the visits to her father. He told her to read to the unborn babies. He gave her letters from other inmates, killers too. Most of the letters described killings in detail and he wanted her to read them out loud.
As soon as she could, after Joe and Jeff were born she took them with her to see her father. She wanted them to have a strong male presence in their lives.
As the boys grew older, she could see evil in them. They chased and stomped on all kinds of bugs, birds too. She encouraged them to practice on bigger animals. Once in school, the twins were often sent home for beating up on classmates. Jan was happy with their progress until one day when Joe came home crying. He had gotten sent to the principal’s office for repeatedly tripping the same little girl. She ended up with a broken nose and a black eye. Rather then sending him home the principal, a nosy know it all whom Jan disliked, had asked Joe why he did it. He told her that he had to follow in his dad’s and granddad’s footsteps and become a bad man. Questioned further, he admitted that he was to be a murderer when he grew up. Without showing any apparent fear, the principal explained the concept of nature versus nurture and said Joe could be anything he wanted to be.
Jan seethed with anger but could see no way to deal with the situation so she did the only thing she could, she focused her energy on Jeff. She tried to keep the twins separate as much as possible, even giving up her room and sleeping on the couch. As they grew older, they would periodically ask Jan the reason why they couldn’t play together and she would tell them both separately that each had an illness the other shouldn’t catch. When they were about to start high school she knew she wouldn’t be able to keep the lie going much longer so she got her mother to agree to let Joe live with her.
Separated for four years she didn’t understand why they were together now. She had groomed Jeff to be a killer. Joe hadn’t made the cut. Why were they together, she wanted to ask them.
Jeff could see his mother’s life ebbing away and that made him happier then he had ever been. Yes, she had groomed him to be a murderer and he knew that yearning would be hard to give up. But Joe had promised to help him, free him from the fate his mother tried to seal for him. That freedom came seconds later when the bullet pieced his brain.