Archive for February, 2016

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Ghosts and Spirits

It was my research into the supernatural that started this blog. AND it was my research into the supernatural that lead me to dark places, literally.

I gave up being a paranormal researcher in 2012. I am still drawn to it. I will never be far from it. But, I want to go at it from a different perspective. And so, this blog will often include ghostly encounters, or unexplained phenomenon, but until I decided where I am going with all of my past and future explorations, I will post about anything and everything that could be considered an escape! An escape from the moment. An escape from our life. An escape from personal demons. An escape from the real world.

Instant. Escape. That’s what this blog will be about.

The Hands of a Killer

   by Tama Poore 2-01-2016

We always remember that trigger moment, that precise instant when time stands still and all background noise mutes inside our heads, when our mind hones in on whatever trauma marked that moment.

It can leave a permanent imprint. Even as fragments of conversation or images permeates our thoughts, other thoughts are already ahead of the several possibilities playing out in our mind; but I must ask, are these subconscious thoughts and images  preparing you for something, or distracting you from the inevitable?

Muted deafness. I can feel my heart hammering behind my breast. I see the speaker’s lips moving, but is she really talking? Then the audio erupts on a decibel level magnified by my heightened anxiety, “He doesn’t work here anymore, and the reason he doesn’t is because he was arrested for murdering a man….”

It was that instant, that mind numbing moment when I mentally saw him and I recalled his hands, big as they were, imagining them with another man’s blood etched in the crevices of his skin, dark beneath his nails…

Flashbacks in time, even as she tries to explain to me what had happened, but I wasn’t consciously aware in that moment, I was mentally many years in the past. I recall noticing the roughness of his hands in addition to the size. Do you notice people’s hands? I notice such features relatively early, and then later I begin to notice so much more. Especially as my life merges and intertwines with theirs, I believe then I should become acutely aware of their traits and characteristics.

I remember looking at the hairs on his forearms, noticing their color and density. I observe the shape of his hands; are his thumbs curved or straight? Did you know a curved thumb is also known as a hitch hiker’s thumb, and it’s a recessive trait?  I notice how strong his hands grip the steering wheel. The relaxed body posture as he handles a car, even at 110 mph! He was the only man to ever take me to that speed and as exhilarating as it was, he seemed at perfect peace with the dangerous speed.

He was many of my firsts, and maybe that’s why I struggle with what he did, because we certainly were not together when he committed the crime, it shouldn’t have had such a lasting effect on me. I was long gone from his life, and thankfully so, yet his murderous actions plague me almost as much as if we had been together when he did it. Maybe that’s why I still struggle internally at times. Because I failed to notice the details that should have alerted me to the grisly realization that he could take a life.

Alas, it’s what I failed to detect which prompts me to write this story. It’s why I can’t forget him, in spite of how much I want to forget him. I would erase that chapter of my life if I could. It has been 3 decades since last I saw him, yet I can’t forget him.

I spent almost two years with him; I carried his child, I lost his child. But, would you believe that when I was in 7th grade when he first began to pursue me I found him very unappealing? I didn’t like him very much at all. Why didn’t I listen to that tiny, gut instinct? Maybe you should always go with that first inner tug of uncertainty.

He was 3 years my senior, and one reason I disliked him when I was in seventh grade, when he was in his last year of middle school, something happened towards the end of the school year when he was caught riding a skate board through the hallways. A teacher shouted for him to stop and get off the skateboard. I heard the exchange, my head on a swivel looking for the trouble. I could see our principle approaching the scene; he was a very tall man. I saw him reach out mid stride attempting to stop the student whose back I could only catch a glimpse of between all of the other kids in the way. Suddenly he turned around and just punched the older man of authority right in the face. Bam!!! The halls were jam packed full of students moving from their last classroom to their next class and you could have heard a pin drop that instant after the unmistakable sound of fist against face emanated down the hallway.

Two male teachers grabbed him by his shoulders and shirt sleeve, dragging him towards the office. Students parted like the red sea to let them through, that’s when his enraged blue eyes caught mine, I watched him as they drug him away, and for some strange reason my eyes dropped to his hand, the one that had delivered the punch, and I remember thinking, “Damn, that had to hurt, his hands are huge.” This takes me back to my reference to his hands, as mentioned at the beginning of this story, when I was visualizing blood staining his hands while the lady at the auto shop explained why he had been fired.

Yes, he had sizeable hands with fingers which could strum the strings on a bass guitar and grip the neck of the same instrument like it was an appendage of his body. He could also ride a dirt bike and master the rugged trails, confronting the washboards head on, while approaching the ramps with confidence, holding the grips tight as his forearms flexed and hardened, they were incredibly strong as a result.

He was also very much into muscle cars, racing them in illegal street races, but beyond that he could build them from the inside out; strip them, paint them, turning them into a custom, high performance vehicle. As a result of his hobbies, his passion, his work, his hands were rough and callused and his nails always had auto grease or auto paint beneath them. Yet here I am imagining the dirt as blood.

One time I helped him strip the paint off of a 1969 Ford Mustang, it was time consuming and maybe I complained. I really don’t know why I annoyed him, but suddenly he jumped up from his kneeling position beside the car and grabbed a razor blade from atop the hood and used it to slice the top of his forearm wide open. He dropped the razor blade and gripped the wounded arm and darted to the bathroom. I stood there dumbfounded. My heart pumping wildly, my mouth dry, looking at a bloody discarded razor blade and the trail of dripping blood left behind on the concrete floor of the garage.

I was mortified. I didn’t immediately follow him, but then it crossed my mind he might be slicing his wrists or something. What on earth had prompted this irrational behavior? Hesitantly, I made my way to the bathroom door and knocked lightly, “Are you okay?” My voice was weak and shaky.

He didn’t say a word.

I rapped harder on the door, my voice louder, “Hey, are you alright in there?”

I heard his hand grip the doorknob, heard the click as it unlocked, and he pulled the door open, glaring at me over his shoulder. He had shop towels wrapped around his forearm which was drenched with blood. There was blood in the sink and some on the floor. He finally spoke unkindly, “There’s some super glue over there in my tool cabinet.”

This sounded like a direct order for me to get it. As wide eyed and frightened as I was, I walked away, not with my back to him though, and I found the super glue. I saw my hand tremble as I offered it to him. He let go of his arm and unrolled more of the rough, absorbent paper towels from the roll. “When I pull this one off, you squeeze it together.”

I felt weak in the knees even before I saw the wound, this is the moment I recognized that it needed stitches, the gash that was at least 5-6 inches long and it was deep. As soon as he removed the bloody towels, dark blood rushed to spill out and I grabbed the sliced flesh on either side of the wound and pushed it together. He turned the faucet on and grabbed some hydrogen peroxide from the bathroom cabinet and doused it. I risked a glance at his face held in a tight grimace, I looked back at the rivulets of diluted blood running down the sides of the sink, I also noticed the foaming peroxide pooling against my own skin, bloody tinged foam following the outlines of my fingers. I managed to say, “I think this needs stitches. Do you want to go to the emergency room?”

Again, that look, the one I hadn’t seen before this day but would see countless times during our relationship. Those blue eyes were hard and ice cold and his face was hateful. He didn’t respond, he simply ran some cold water over the wound and patted it dry even as blood escaped the laceration which I tried to hold together.  He worked slowly and meticulously on his arm, as precisely as he worked on the hot rods he enjoyed. In the end, when this wound healed, it was a raised, darker pigmented scar. And we never spoke of it. When anyone asked about the scar he would lie and tell them it was the result of a motorcycle crash.

The fact is, I became accustomed to not speaking about things which bothered him. And there were many things. I truly felt sorry for him in those days. His mother had abandoned him when he was four years old because his father was an abusive alcoholic. His father tried to raise him, but the stories I could tell you about that chapter of his life would curl the hairs on your upper lip, even if you only have superfluous hairs like most people. Finally, his father dumped him on his aging grandparents, who did everything they could for him. They truly loved him. They tried to make a difference in his life.

But they didn’t fail him. His mother failed him; she left and never came back, never even checked on him. Ever again! His father failed him, he drank himself into oblivion, brought home too many skanky women, even gave him alcohol from an early age, and worse than that, had one of his filthy whores seduce his son at age 12 to “make him into a man!” But beyond that, he failed himself. He didn’t try to rise above his childhood trauma. He didn’t try to be a better man than his piece of shit father. He didn’t use his talents and skills to improve himself and seek a better life. It wasn’t because he didn’t receive love and guidance; his grandparents went above and beyond their role to give him love and guidance and a chance at a decent life.

Maybe that’s why, when he pursued me in high school that I gave him a second look, I thought I could make a difference. When he asked me out again, (I can’t count the times he had asked during middle school), he was driving a super looking muscle car, he had a job at Pizza Hut, in addition to helping at the local body shop, and he had matured since seventh grade. I thought he had outgrown the violent, rebellious, younger version of himself who had slugged the middle school principle and faced expulsion.

Of course he could be charming when it served him well. I wasn’t the only person he would charm. The truth is, beyond that charming surface was someone very untrustworthy; something lived inside him which he kept in a quiet vault, and if others discovered it, oh well! He didn’t justify it or try to explain why or apologize for it.

I would discover it much too late. There were so many ways he hurt the ones who loved him, or gave him chances. It seems no one was exempt. I would inevitably encounter the darkness within him so many times, he would not only rip my heart out by cheating on me and lying to me, he would literally rip from me a trust that is inherent in us all, until it is slowly shredded and peeled away.

I was too young and inexperienced to know what that cold, dark “something” was. I was too naive to know that the charming side of him was a means to get his way, it was obviously a part of him, but rarely came out. The darker side of him, the silent, seething, distrustful side was who he really was. It was his very essence.

My experience with him has always reminded me of the Native American parable about the good and evil within us all, it goes something like this: “A fight is going on inside each of us,” a wise, Cherokee grandfather tells his young grandson, “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

Why did he feed the evil wolf? Was it because there was more darkness than light inside him? Let me take in a very deep breath. You can’t fix the broken. That’s a lesson I learned too late.

The fact is, I obviously was attracted to him earlier than admitted, no amount of sympathy could make me notice that he had a head full of near black curls and a nice skin color which I can’t truly describe, but it was richer than my fair skin. For a man he had such a nice ass. Women would pay dearly for a round ass like that. I loved his full lips. And he kissed well. He wasn’t the type of man who gave compliments but the hunger in his eyes when he stared at me, wanting me, that hunger and thirst and desire was like a magnetic pull. And it pulled me in.

Funny how life often changes our perspective, doesn’t it? As I describe him today, he becomes grotesque and ugly. He becomes a monster in my eyes. He was always a monster, I trust this now. But, I still can’t believe he killed a man in cold blood. I can’t believe his hands, the same hands I had held and admired. The same hands which had touched every curve of my body, and made me feel desirable, I can’t believe those hands brutally beat and choked a man to death.

Those same hands and strong arms had carried a lifeless body to a bathroom, where he turned on the water and immersed his victim, trying to wash away… what? Evidence? Evidence of what? Was it more than just a beating? The victim is gone, his side of the story will never be told. What was he trying to wash away, if other than the blood?

At some point he, or the other man while alive, went to a neighbor’s house after midnight and tapped on a window, calling for help. The neighbor had ignored the plea for help, not wanting to get involved. Left behind were bloody footprints on the sidewalk and in the grass. (He forgot to wash those away.) Then he wrapped the body in a blanket and carried it to a stolen vehicle. (Whose vehicle had he stolen)? I really don’t know. Because I had read the details in a public court document years after the crime and maybe my mind was numb from the disbelief of it all.

When I first heard what he had done I couldn’t believe it. I also couldn’t believe I had fallen for a person capable of such a crime. I did research to find out the truth, hoping none of it was true or that I had heard an embellished version of a fight, not a murder. It was all true, too true. I don’t want to hurt any surviving family members who may stumble upon this story, so I won’t divulge too much, all I will say is that the two men got into a heated argument and my ex, the killer, had beat the man so badly that the kitchen floor was splattered in blood, there was the bloody footprints to the neighbor’s window, and other evidence left behind. Provoking the images of a viscous, animalistic attack which sometimes haunt me. I have so many questions. Why? Why kill him? And why did my ex want to dispose of the body? If it was self-defense or even an accident why not call the police? Wouldn’t that have been better than being caught with the body in the car? Everything about the story was so inhumane.

Where was he going to dispose of the body? Perhaps throw it in a river? Back when we dated he had thrown a dog he had run over into a river. I was with him that day, a dozen years before he would try to dispose of a human body. He had been fired from the auto repair shop where he worked, accused of stealing tools. He kept driving by his boss’s house. He never said why he was doing this, but he was immensely agitated. He never, ever explained any of his actions when he was in one of these moods. After the third passing of the man’s home a beagle ran out in front of his car. I saw the dog and tried to warn him, but the horrible thud of the tires running over the dog’s body informed me I was too late with that warning. I let out a moan of sympathy, I probably even said something, but he had already stopped the car. I didn’t want to get out to see it, so I leaned out the window and asked if it was dead.

By now he was moving around to the trunk where he retrieved a 5 gallon bucket, (why did he have a bucket in his trunk?) and I saw through the side-view mirror that he was putting the dog in the bucket, I don’t know how it even fit, and I never stepped out to see. We drove away with the dead dog in the trunk, I presume it was dead. I hope it was dead.

I asked him what was he doing, “What if that dog belongs to a kid? Shouldn’t you go back and tell someone?” He never would answer. What goes on in someone’s head, someone like him, I will never know. Were the mental gears turning out of control when he became so silent?

We drove to a nearby bridge and he threw the dog’s body over the bridge into the water. I started crying after he got into the car and he finally shouted at me to shut up before he pulled over and put me out, “You’re getting on my nerves!” He yelled.

After I learned about the murder and the effort to get rid of the man’s body I recalled the incident with the beagle. I could think of numerous times he had been in fights and how dirty he fought, back in our school days and dating years. He had the power to hurt someone without his dirty tricks, but he seemed to always try to get the upper hand, as in pulling a man’s jacket down around his arms to confine his opponent’s arms while he punched on him like a punching bag. There are many more examples.  I can’t list them all. But these were just some of the characteristics which should have been red flags. Was I not paying attention? Or was I too busy noticing the physical characteristics to see what was internal?

Everywhere he worked, and he had many jobs during those years, he was praised for his hard working abilities at first, but before long he was always suspected of stealing. Everywhere he worked this would become the pattern. Our friends, my family, someone always suspected him when something came up missing. But, he always denied it, and as quiet as he became when confronted, one could just never know if he was guilty of every accusation. He would never admit to me, or talk to me about his crimes.

Why did I stay with him? Deep breath… Eventually I did try to break up with him, but he would hurt himself, yes, he would cut himself, or lock himself in the bathroom with a knife or threaten to take a bottle full of pills. Eventually, when that didn’t get my sympathy he would threaten me and my family, out of fear I stayed.

I became pregnant by him even though I took an oral contraceptive, I didn’t take it at the same time each day and sometimes simply forgot to take it. No surprise I became pregnant.  I carried the baby 11 weeks. On the night I first saw blood we went to the emergency room , the baby still had a heartbeat. I was supposed to go home and stay in bed until I could see my ob-gyn in a few days. Instead of taking me home for the bed-rest, he took me to a restaurant because he hadn’t eaten since the day before. He then took me to an auto parts store because he needed a part. I reminded him I needed bed rest. He gave me that look. I didn’t remain silent this time, I accused him of wanting the baby to die. He said, “If you want to go home, walk home.” I told him I hated him. And for a moment I thought he was going to do something physical to me. Instead he leaned across me, opened the door, and shoved me out.

Remember, I didn’t have the luxury of a cell phone in those days; it was over 3 decades ago. I walked, and I cried, and I asked God to save the baby. I had never really considered if I wanted the baby, not until that moment. I was so young and surprised by the pregnancy, I had only seen the ob-gyn once before at week 7 of the pregnancy and in the emergency room was the first time I had heard its heartbeat. My mind was whirling in so many directions, but I walked along the side of the road until he finally drove up beside me, a couple of miles from the auto store. It took a little convincing but I finally did get in the car. I slumped in the seat, hating him. Quietly promising myself as soon as I could, I would get away from him. This would also mean facing a family I had ran away from. The miscarriage happened less than a week later, and I was taken to the emergency room again, this time admitted, and I had a procedure call a “D and C”. The whole time, no one came. He dropped me off. And literally, I was all alone. And very afraid. But this was the turning point for me.  In the hospital with no friends or family by my side, I vowed I would be done with him and no longer be a weak or fearful person. I didn’t want this type of life. I knew I had to get away from him.

It would take involving the police and a restraining order and years of turbulence to fully remove him from my life. But eventually, he was gone. Would you believe he would call my mother’s home phone to threaten us? A few times he came into the store where I worked, (I got a job immediately after breaking up with him), I had warned the managers about him, and so if the police were called he would leave immediately to avoid that confrontation because he was a criminal after all. He had stolen so many things, it turns out. He was also suspected of arson, when someone’s house had been burned down, someone who had angered him. It was never proven if he had anything to do with it.  (Coincidentally, burning my Mom’s house down with us inside was one of his favorite threats.]

Even after he was arrested for the murder, a decade after we split he would try to make collect calls to my mother’s house from prison. Alarmingly this was after I was married and had children with my husband, still he tried to reach out from prison to harass us. It took a total of 15 years from the day I broke up with him for the last call to ring at my mother’s house. That would be 5 years after he killed the man.

He was sentenced to 40 years, by the way. He appealed it, had it reduced to 20 years. Was eligible for parole after 15 years. As I said, he could be charming when he needed to be, it must have worked in prison just the same, because he went from first degree murder charges to second degree.

For the longest time I worried he would return to our area when he was released, but that was a needless concern, he was sent to another prison in another state to serve time for another stolen vehicle charge. His will always be a life of crime, of this I am certain. There is nothing for him on the outside. Chances are he will find ways to get back to the inside of those prison walls. I believe some people are better fit to live in there, after all.

I think I might understand his weaknesses better now, his silent way of turning those mental gears, always planning the things he must do to never face his personal demons. But we all must face our demons, you know? I imagine he faced many inside the prison. He was already imprisoned, self- imprisoned, even in those days of our youth, incarcerated in his own living hell. Inside him was that darkness I mentioned earlier, a cold, detached darkness. I think his inability to talk about things and the silence which followed an action he knew better than to take; and his inability to feel regret for hurting others, for betraying those who gave him a chance, I believe those are but a few the characteristics of a killer. The traits I should have noticed, but failed to see.