I sat alone on the mall bench, watching the crowd of people before me. They hurried this way in that, always busy-bodies, always rushing from one place to another, never slowing down to enjoy the little things in life.
I knew better. I had planted myself near the Cinnabon store – the lovely scent of cinnamon rolls inebriating my sense of smell as I just sat there, taking in everything around me. I saw the various plants and decorations the mall had set up. About a hundred feet in front of me there was a small pond with glass walls and various fish swimming around in it. They sped gracefully through the water, apparently having a good time regardless of their being contained in a small space.
A large family walked right in front of me – a husband and wife accompanied by several kids, some pulling and tugging, whining about the shopping day taking so long. Others were pulling and tugging, excited to go to whatever store they were going to next.
It was all in their faces – you could tell a lot from a person’s face. What they are thinking, how they are feeling, even what their various wants and wishes are.
That’s why I was here today. People-watching, I liked to call it. I’d often come here to just sit and watch.
Okay, I’ll admit that wasn’t the endgame. But it is true enough that I came here to watch people. But truth is, I came here to stalk them.
I am a hunter, and every one of them is my prey. Or potential prey, at least. That family with the myriad of kids, half happy and half sad? Gone, just like that, if I wanted them to be.
I laughed. I had snapped my fingers when I said “gone” – no one noticed, though, of course. That’s the thing about L.A. No one ever notices you. Not that I minded, necessarily – it was why I had chosen here to be my hunting ground, after all. People only notice you if you go out of your way to be noticed. I didn’t.
I’m just a kind, middle-aged man, sitting on a bench, perhaps taking a rest from a long shopping day. Maybe waiting for my wife in the women’s clothing store to my left. Maybe I’m waiting for my order at Cinnabon.
So many possibilities, so many explainable possibilities. So many so-called “normal” reasons I could have for sitting here by myself.
I’ll level with you right now. I’m not a kind, middle-aged man. I hurt people, and I enjoy it. That urge to hurt things has been a part of me as long as I can remember. But the police don’t know it. Yes, I’m just that kind man that goes to church, donates to charity, supports my local law enforcement by attending benefits and giving money.
I’m the best citizen this city has. I vote on voting days, I mourn with the mourners when various shootings occur. I go out of my way to help the police and those people in office. My best friends are movie stars. My mother is a famous screenwriter. My father is a bank manager.
I’m a killer. But don’t tell anyone, it’s a secret.
I’m that kind man on Woodrow Wilson Drive, remember? That’s all.
“There,” I said out loud to myself. I’m telling you, people really don’t notice you at malls. I could probably say a thousand words to myself and no one would notice. “Yep, he’s the one,” I said to myself, looking at a lone woman, walking slowly and seemingly sad.
My catch for the day. I smiled to myself as I calmly stood up from the bench and started toward my catch. It was a good one.