On a warm summer night in central Indiana, a surprisingly well-adjusted serial killer with a successful career as a stand-up comedian and a cherished collection of fingertips has come out to play, and there’s really nothing funny about it.
In the 108,000-word thriller Die Laughing, The Cowboy, aka comedian Robbie Lester, suffers blackouts that seem to be growing in duration. The Darkness, as he calls it, does things, bad things Robbie has no recollection of. While The Cowboy is plagued with The Darkness that haunts him, a vile, deranged Killer announces his coming-out party when a body, missing nine of his ten fingertips, is placed on crude display at the site of a former auto-lighting manufacturer.
Ben Oneal is the product of a barber and a telephone operator. Yes a man who could give a close shave as well as a haircut, and woman on the other end of the phone, politely asking, “Number Please?” He graduated from Purdue University and made a career as a lamp designer for General Motors. During his time at GM, he worked with a man known as “a modern-day Bluebeard.”
The cool of the early-morning air was a welcome relief to the scorching heat of the midsummer Indiana day. He walked with purpose through the overgrown field, his broken mind contemplating death— not his own but a gift he afforded one who did not deserve such a grand honor. The soon-to-be deceased would make his last contribution to the world seated in an ordinary, blue, faded, webbed chaise lounge.
The man with the broken mind, dressed in black, had parked his car in an abandoned parking area that was slowly crumbling back to nature. His boots cut through the weeds, kicking up insects that jumped or flew away, in search of a safer place where they could carry on with their nocturnal business in undisturbed peace. He stopped, realizing he had reached his destination, the place he was meant to be. Perfect, he thought. The body that would soon lie there was the culmination of two years of intense preparation, but only the beginning of the mayhem that is to be.