ENDGAME - Part One: Beecher
by Dani

I've been cheating. When Said isn't looking, I read my Bible. Mostly the Book of Job, or sometimes, The Song of Solomon. It seems fitting to swing between the two.

I'm flattering myself, of course. Thinking that Said gives a shit. I'm a lost cause. A deviant. A hopeless sinner. I once was lost and now...I am still lost. And Allah has no more to say to me than God does.

So what had I hoped to find in the words of the Old Testament? I was looking for confirmation. Proof. I wanted to know that He was still here with me. Despite everything and maybe because of it. Always. Like the sign on the Baptist church near the tiny apartment that I lived at in Cambridge. The sign I read everyday before going to class. It said in mismatched letters: "Remember: no matter what, God loves you." No matter what, no matter what. That was my constant prayer, for the longest time.

But He doesn't. Love you. And it does matter. The things you do. The mistakes you make. The pain you cause. It must. God chooses his flock. Sometimes God does not even *see* you, doesn't know where you are, where your son may lie, pale and still with a blanket of wet leaves covering him.

My son.

Enough. Stop it. Focus. Stick to certainties, not emotions. Using your feelings to determine your next course of action is tantamount to hitting on one of the wise guys, i.e. COMPLETELY FUCKING STUPID, so stop. Distance yourself; use reason, think facts.

One big catch. What are the facts? Are there any? What can I rely on as truth?

Start with the simple truths then. Your truth.

All right. The truth is that I am worn out. I am tired. I need to sleep. I'm not prepared to play any more fucking games. I don't think I could start even if I wanted to.

Ok, good. One down.

Complicated unconfirmed truths are less easy to deal with. No *shit*. Believe me, I don't want to jump to conclusions, look where that always takes me, but I just don't know what else to make of it. Chris is a killer. He has killed. I knew that already. But this...this is different. He killed Mondo and Shemin with a deliberate efficiency. He was cool enough to do it in as small a place as Em City and not even be considered a suspect. Either by Querns or the hacks. Or seemingly, by anyone. Besides myself.

Which leads me to this, in light of *that* information, conjectures become clearer, more substantial. Now there's something else of which to be *almost* certain. The likelihood that he has killed before in the same manner. Not in a robbery and high on speed or what have you. And not in self-defense, reflexively or by accident. No. Pre-meditated. With intent to kill. In other words, he has proven that he is *capable* of being the killer the FBI has been so keen to catch.

Unconfirmed. Almost. Probably.

Try it out.

Christopher Keller killed Marc Coracci, Byam Lewis, and Bryce Tibbets. Sodomized and tortured them.

God Almighty.

The men in the crime scene photos. Their snuffed out faces. I can't see past those faces. I don't want to know. Why had that investigator shown me those in the first place, what did it have to do with my children? Did he do it to make me go crazier than I already was? Or was it to make his suspicions stick? To make me see Chris as the FBI sees him?

Wanted for questioning for a string of homosexual murders...just how do *I* fit into that M.O.?

Tobias, you are a fool. Moreover, you're a prag. Again. Oh, yeah baby. A prag forever, pragged for life. Man. You are and you know it! Granted, this is a complicated pragdom, but it's a pragdom nonetheless. Yes, of course, he's made you his, branded you just as surely. More thoroughly actually, inside and out. Admit it, *you* are the bitch and *you* are the cunt and no matter how cold-blooded you think you've become or how nuts these fucks think you are, it stays that way.

Unless I die. But that won't happen, because my end is to prolong my life, right Job? I think that's just *great*.

Chris. I hadn't really noticed how much he had changed until we talked in his pod. He was still recognizable, in the eyes, in the walk. But somewhere along the way there had been a shift. He was doing the "who me?" routine again, playing dumb and slinking around with O'Reily, of all people. Amusing himself by manipulating others. When had it happened? What set it off? Was it when I fucked Shemin? Must have been. Mondo was one thing; Chris had given me up to him like an unwanted Christmas gift. But Shemin...that had been a test that Chris had barely passed. I made that overture in full view of him. Shemin had shuffled up to me in the laundry room and mumbled something about how he heard I was a fag. I took a long studied look at Chris folding those shirts he never wears and said loud and clear, "I do what I have to".

I thought I saw a flicker of something in his face. Shit, at the time I figured that if he still loved me, he'd stop me. Or try to. In some way. Fuck it, if he hates me, he should shut me up. Beat the shit out of me, I deserved it. Get some of his own back. But he didn't. Or hadn't. Just not right away. His payback was making sure to brush right by me as he led Shemin back to the laundry room. He knew that I'd keep watch and draw my own conclusions. But they were the wrong ones. He didn't do what I had expected him to. He never does.

The next day, as he stood next to me on the railing, his breath hot on my shoulder, he insinuated that Mondo was next. Gee, thanks Chris for supplying me with that special information. That distinction. Today's victims courtesy of Tobias Beecher's extracurricular activities! Whoo-hoo, line up boys, you too can win!

Of course, I demonstrated my own idea of justice. I hadn't exactly run to Raymond to tell him to watch his back. How fucked was *that*?

But Shemin, Christ. Poor jerk.

"I see you fucking all these other guys."


He's there now. Chris. Watching. Up above me, from his pod, I can feel it.

I'm so fucking transparent. He knew that I hadn't been rifling through his stuff to find evidence, he knew what that had *really* been about. Afraid of getting the shit beat out of you, *please*, that was pitiful Tobias, your worst yet. I've been here long enough to know that there are worse things to fear. No. Chris knew I was there because I finally had an excuse to be there. I knew it too, in my body as I went towards his pod after Adebisi's little cross examination. I was dazed and bruised, but above everything, I felt...light. I had a clear sense of purpose. I knew with a terrible certainty that it wouldn't be long before Chris would come through the door and maybe grab my arm, get in my face, my space, take me in.

This is yet another uncomfortable truth.

I had gone, knowing what I had surmised about Shemin's death, and that hadn't stopped me from going. I knew that I shouldn't go, that in confronting him I would find out the worst. But I hadn't been able to control myself. I tried to, but I couldn't. I couldn't stop myself. I practically *ran*. What can I say? I'm an addict. I keep trying to recapture that moment. The moment where I see him for the first time and know I don't stand a chance.

It takes all my energy to simply sit in the chair by the door and pretend to read. The words are all bleeding onto one another. I want to look up but I can't. So I sing quietly to myself. Talk to myself. Keep myself occupied. Then I hear the commotion, Supreme Allah screaming, Adebisi walking by with the hacks, I give in, just like that, and look.

I'm so easy.

He's up there and he is smiling that smile. Right to me. I lean closer to the plexiglas until my forehead presses against it and look right back. I am transfixed and still. I'm a snake being charmed by a snake.

I put my hands up in front of me, and tap the backs of my fingers on the clear surface. Backwards arpeggios. Scales in reverse.

He looks at me as if he can hear my thoughts and tilts his face as if saying "See."

"See what you made me do?"

Whenever Chris has lied to me, I believed him. When he finally started telling me the truth, I didn't. I'm not sure what this is, the lie or the truth.

One thing is certain. I'm still alive. He hasn't killed me.

Because he has *never* felt this way.

There is more staring until lights out and less sleep afterwards. When they finally let us out, I watch Chris putting on a big show, sauntering away without looking back. Me? I have no game face. Not for him or any of these other cunts. This is like an endgame; I'm spent but it's my move and he'll be circling back my way in no time.

I have to be ready.