No Censure by Tracy R. Franklin

I killed a man last night, intentionally and after careful planning. I thought it would be harder to do, but I came home and washed off every icky sentiment with a simple long, hot, soapy shower; then I brushed my teeth, made a steaming mug of mint tea, put my feet up on the coffee table, and watched a romantic comedy.

You, my children and grandchildren probably, can interpret my actions and judge my soul in any way you find appropriate. I can try to influence your impressions, and I do so now because I am sure I will love you more than breath, but I think it’s important to be honest and let you know that I have no regrets at this moment. I also plan to continue meting out justice in my own small, peculiar way.

I do understand that there are inherent dangers in ordaining oneself such a minister, chief among them arrogance and simple bad judgment. I think I know who deserves to die, and I intend to vet each candidate with care and, yes, even respect; but I know that it's possible for me to get it all wrong. I have decided that this risk to my conscience is one I must take. Still, I hope I do not influence you to do the same.

I tell you my story so that you will know the truth about me. The memories I will one day make with each of you will be real and good, and I know I won’t risk losing your love as I live. But I do not want to lie to you; when I am gone, I do not want you to mourn me as a sweet old lady half sainted.

The man I murdered tonight was not a devil. He was not himself a murderer, he was not a child abuser, and he was not a rapist. He was not any kind of thief by our legal definitions, though I do believe that he took oxygen away from life more deserving.

I came to the decision to kill him suddenly, but not easily. I saw him every day on the train, pushing past those younger and smaller, berating those unfortunate enough to offend him by any manner of gum chewing, heavy sweating, or accidental jostling. For months I simply felt sickened by him and shook my head at his selfishness, like the good citizen I was raised to be. I didn’t confront him, though others sometimes did. When confronted, he would simply laugh or rant or ridicule.

One day I saw him slip on the subway platform and was disappointed that he was not closer to the tracks. I realized then that I truly believed he deserved to die.

There are no fines levied for assholery, no ways of shaming those with no sense of decency. When a prick dies old and bedridden, his family sighs with relief. When he dies young, someone buys a round for the house. The only ones who mourn are those still under the spell of one con or another.

Once I believed that he should die, it was important to be certain, so I took a personal day and followed him. As it happens, he managed a small restaurant, so it was easy to sit comfortably and unnoticed as I watched. He treated his employees reprehensibly, and I cannot say with honesty whether I was disappointed by this or relieved.

He lived in a run-down quadruplex on the outskirts of a series of dilapidated and half-shuttered strip malls. Each unit of the complex had its own entrance.

He lived alone. I think I would have changed my course of action if he’d had a family.

Later, I bought a large butcher knife with a wide guard from a major discount chain store. From a thrift store, I bought a pair of gloves, a knit cap, two pairs of flimsy tennis shoes, an oversized pair of pants and jacket with big pockets. I waited until I was sure my face was forgotten and the nights were chilly.

About a month ago, I boxed up some old winter clothing I’d collected from friends and neighbors and made a donation to the same thrift store. When I dropped off the box, I made sure to chat with the store’s volunteers. If a strand of my hair should end up in some old, discarded clothing used by a killer, well, there would be no surprise in that.

Last night, I pulled my hair back into a tight ponytail and dressed as I normally would except for my shoes. I wore one of the cheap pairs of tennis shoes. Then I pulled on the knit cap, the extra pants, the gloves, and the jacket. I put the extra pair of shoes in one pocket of the jacket and the knife in another. I took public transportation to a neighborhood three blocks away from the bully’s house. I walked the rest of the way. His street was empty.

I knew I only had one chance to get this right. If I hesitated, missed his heart, or wasn’t forceful enough, he would fight. Blood would spray. I would be caught. I knocked, he opened the door, and I struck – one plunge with all my weight behind it.

I left the knife in his body. I wanted to run, and would have had I heard doors opening or neighbors shouting, but it was quiet, and I made myself walk. I changed my shoes behind the buildings of the first strip mall I came to and left the used pair behind, throwing one shoe as far as I could to separate the pair into just so much urban debris. I shed my gloves, hat, jacket, and pants behind the next shopping center, using two different dumpsters.

That’s as complicated as it got.

Good night, my loves. Know that I am surely waiting eagerly to see you again.

Tracy R. Franklin writes poetry, fiction, and essays. Her work has been published in SubtleTeaPen HimalayaA Little Poetry, and other journals. Angst, Anger, Love, Hope, Tracy's first full poetry collection, was released by JMS Books LLC in November 2010. To learn more about Tracy, please visit