The first day of summer was still a few weeks away, but the early morning breeze that blew across Interstate 69, just a few miles west of Port Huron Michigan, was warm indeed. The crickets played their chirping symphony as the other creatures of the night joined them in serenade. Clouds shrouded the moon and stars, creating an almost unspoiled darkness, save for a few stubborn fireflies that insisted on shining brightly against the hazy canopy.
Perfect, he thought as he gazed up at the cosmos, before returning his attention to the child predator at his feet. “Eric Conrad, you are the worst kind of cancer.” After a pause and a shake of his head, he continued, “No, to call you a cancer is to do that disease a great injustice. It sickens me to imagine the depths of your depravity.” Mr. Smith pulled his hood off and squatted, till he was eye level with Mr. Conrad, the child predator, entirely naked, gagged with his own filthy sock, and tied to a fencepost. He was so close that the smell of Conrad’s terror sweat overshadowed the scent of the wildflowers beyond the fence.
“Eric Conrad,” Smith continued, “I frankly have no idea why any fair and just God would allow parasites like you to exist. It is entirely unfathomable to me to think that you or someone like you could possibly harm my children. Why? Why are you still here, still taking up space on this planet, using up oxygen you don’t deserve to breathe? Don’t get me wrong. I do not wish to act as the hand of God, nor to deny His sovereignty and wisdom, but for what you have done, you must die. Justice will be served here and now.”
Mr. Smith knew that his speech was a little wordy and over the top, but he had worked on it for a week and was proud of his creation. He felt that the occasion needed some ceremony. At that moment, he decided that he would make this same speech at each of the coming child predator deaths.
There was very little traffic at two in the morning, when he first parked adjacent to the sign that read “Wadhams Road – 1 Mile,” along the westbound lane. He made quick work of setting up the blind that effectively camouflaged him, and kept him out of view of any nosy passersby. It was easy enough to pull the unconscious Conrad from the trunk and carry his limp, blanket-wrapped body the seventy feet, to the place where the man would spend the last moments of his perverted existence. Only after he had tied Conrad to the metal post, securely binding his arms by his side, did he use the smelling salts to wake the highly respected educator. The ammonia triggered the inhalation reflex, and the irritating gas that rushed into his nostrils jolted him awake abruptly; wide-eyed and foggy-brained, he did his best to determine answers to questions that were far beyond his knowing.
“Mr. Conrad, I hate to leave you, but I’m afraid it’s time.” Mr. Smith reached back and grabbed the heavy-duty loppers he’d retrieved from his trunk.
Conrad watched in horror as his capturer positioned the high-quality pruners around his wrist, just an inch above his hand, and then slowly tightened them to the point of being very uncomfortable.
“It makes me nauseous to think what these hands have touched, you sick motherfucker. How could you destroy their innocence, and force the little ones to see and know the darkest of humanity? How dare you corrupt them? Oh, what those poor little children must have experienced at your merciless, perverted hand,” Smith said, shaking his head in disgust.
As Conrad’s right hand separated from his arm, Conrad screamed into the fetid sock.
The sound of breaking bones surprised Mr. Smith, and his repulsion over the act of cutting the man’s hands off threatened to hijack his resolve. He wanted to run away, to just forget that any of it ever happened. Then the pain he’d dealt with for the past year pushed into his thoughts. His wife had left him and taken his children with her. His dreams of a bright future and a successful career were dashed by an unexpected, unwarranted demotion. Then, the most important person in his life, his father, died, putting the finishing touches on his miserable loneliness. It was those circumstances beyond his control that led him to that day, to the beginning of his mission. With all that agony on his mind, he forced himself to swallow the bile that rose in his throat and pushed back any thoughts of stopping. “One down, one to go,” he said without a shred of doubt, then moved the loppers to the other arm.
Conrad struggled violently as the blades tightened on his wrist. Mr. Smith removed his left hand without a bit of mercy or care. As Conrad’s blood drained from his arms, the pain became part of him, and his mind drifted to unconsciousness once again in an effort to help him flee it.