The Causing of It


The woman sat tied uncomfortably to the simple wooden chair. She looked down through heavy tears and strands of her own coal-colored hair, fixated on a small cockroach as it scurried across the dirty, concrete floor. It was in a hurry to make it across the span of open space, perhaps knowing in its cockroach brain that it was in danger of being stomped dead at any second. In that brief moment, the woman envied the roach’s freedom, its mad dash to the safety of a dark corner.

“You don’t have to do this,” she said to the man, whose face — with its sheen of oily sweat — fixated on her. He was not actively sweating, but it was as though he was on the precipice of sweating. His usually well-styled hair was greasy looking and verged on being too long for his face. She wondered in the moment how she had ever found him to be attractive.

“That’s just it, right there,” the man said, pointing a finger at her. “I do have to do this. For me to look after my own interests, I have to do exactly this. You’ve become a hindrance to me getting what I want. You’re blocking my path. Your continued existence is quite explicitly making my life more complicated. I can’t have that. I can’t let that be.”

“Just let me go,” she begged. “I’ll leave you alone. You’ll never hear from me again, I swear.” The harsh light from the naked bulb that hung from a rafter above her head shone in her eyes, and she was sure she looked as desperate as she felt. The heat from the bulb bore into the top of her scalp like the desert sun.

“If only it were that easy,” he said. “If I thought such a thing was an option, I’d certainly entertain the idea. But it’s not. Not at all. You have to die for me to go on.”

“Please. Don’t.” Then tears. She knew her makeup was streaking down her face and she felt the sweat soaking through her silk blouse under her armpits. It was damp and warm in the basement. No air moved. Dusty cobwebs hung from the corners, and paint flaked off the cinder block walls. This was no place to die, she thought. Certainly no place she’d ever imagined dying in.

“Don’t beg me. It’s useless and pathetic. I stopped caring about your feelings and your wishes some time ago. They’re no longer important to me. They matter less to me than the life of a bug in my path on the sidewalk. I can ignore the bug, you see? I can step over it or I can step on it and kill it. It doesn’t matter at all in the cosmic scheme of things. You, on the other hand, your going on livin’ offends me. It’s like a fly buzzin’ in my kitchen. If I let it keep buzzing around me, how can I be content? Its existence, like yours, is a nuisance. Can you understand that?”

“How? How is this happening?” She choked out the words between sobs. The man stood in front of her, and remained still. The chain from the light bulb hung almost to his head. When she looked up at him, the bulb blinded her slightly and she had to squint one eye to see him. He towered over her, and she could discern no emotion in his face, as it was partly-obscured in shadow.

“Life is a series of choices,” he said. “The ones I’ve made have combined with those you’ve made to bring us right here. It’s that simple. There is no master plan to it. It’s a result of choices and circumstances. Don’t read so much into it. Just surrender to the inevitable. It’ll be better.”

“Easy for you to say. You get to live. You get to go on. You get to walk away from here. What about me?” She was angry now. She saw spit leave her own mouth as she yelled the words at him. She shuffled her feet back and forth through the grime on the floor, rocking the wooden chair and seemingly trying to kick the floor apart so she could fall away and escape.

“Stop it,” he said. “You don’t get to escape. You don’t get to go on. You’re nothin’, in the scheme of things. Neither am I, when it comes to it. The difference is, I’m the one holding the gun and making this choice. It’s just one more choice. Your choices brought you to the wrong end of this gun. There’s no sense in trying to change that now. It’s unchangeable. It’s like trying to stop the rain. You can’t. You simply have to wait for it to end. Like your life. Which will end here and now. Your storm is coming to a close.”

“Just do it then,” she said, resigned. The tears stopped. She lifted her head to look him in the eyes. And he shot her. Despite her defiance in the end, he thought she was still surprised when he actually pulled the trigger.


“Hey baby,” said the other woman, as she applied bright red lipstick to her full, pursed lips in front of the mirror.

“Hello, gorgeous. Are you hungry?” The man had a fresh haircut, and the woman thought he always looked so handsome when he returned from getting a trim.

“I’m starving. Where have you been?” she asked, straightening her simple but elegant black dress. It hung tauntingly somewhere between her knees and hips.

“I had to take care of a problem. It’s handled. Now we can focus on enjoying the evening.”

“I’m so glad to hear it. What kind of a problem?” The woman was putting her makeup back in drawers in the bathroom, having completed the application of it. The soft, warm light made her look even prettier than usual, the man thought.

“A nuisance, really. Just something that had been bugging me for a while. Unfinished business. You shouldn’t worry about it.”

“If you say so,” she said. “I do enjoy crossing things off my ‘to do’ list.”

“I know you do. It’s one of the things I like about you. You finish tasks that need finishing. It makes life so much simpler, doesn’t it?”

“It does,” she said. “There is nothing worse than unfinished business. It weighs on you. I’m glad you got it done.” She planted a kiss on his cheek. “Where should we eat?”

“It’s your choice,” he said. “I want you to enjoy it. Choose wherever you want. I just need a quick shower to rinse the hair off.” He began to undress, and she thought he smelled a bit musty, or earthy. She was glad he was going to shower.

“I think we should have Italian. I choose Italian. How does that sound?”

“Life is a series of choices,” he said, winking at her. “And that’s a great one.” He smiled at her with that big smile that first drew her to him. He stepped into the already-running shower, was engulfed in the steam that had formed, and closed the glass door behind himself.


Days passed and the man thought very little of the dead woman. Occasionally in the dark or as he lay in bed she would enter into his mind, but he had no trouble pushing the thought of her away. He focused on other tasks or put his mind to something else. It was that easy. Surprisingly easy.

He had killed before and had never had much trouble with it. At first it surprised him that it came so easily but over time he grew used to it and came to terms with it. He knew it was just how he was. He came to need it, the killing. It came to define him. He came to see it as his primary role in life. He was a killer. Everyone had a job, a role. His was the exterminator of unnecessary life.

He did not always kill women and in-fact had never before killed one of his own romantic interests. It was new for him. He found that he liked it, in general terms. It eradicated a problem and also fulfilled his need for the killing. It was two birds with one stone. He thought he might continue with it but had to be careful that it did not become a pattern that would lead to his downfall. A pattern was always a concern. A pattern was dangerous.

The current woman was still new to him so nowhere in his mind did it enter to perhaps kill her too. That was probably down the road a bit, if at all. They were both still enjoying the novelty of the relationship. That would surely wear off and he would reassess the situation when it did.


“Did you hear about that woman murdered over in Smith?” she asked him some weeks later, as they sat eating at the small table in her apartment.

“No I did not,” he said, as he delicately spooned more soup into his mouth. He was careful not to spill a drop. After swallowing the soup from the spoon, he dabbed his chin with his napkin, nonetheless, just in case some had made its way there.

“Whoever it was tied her to a chair, and shot her in the face as she looked up at him. Just awful. Police think she knew the shooter.”

“Oh? Why is that,” he said. He paused taking his next bite in mid-movement. The spoon hung in the air as he looked at the woman, waiting on her answer.

“Well she didn’t struggle, no break in, nothing stolen, that kind of thing. Detective work, I guess. I just cannot imagine.”

“Imagine what?” he said, as he finished bringing the spoon to his mouth, and swallowed the soup.

“What do you mean, imagine what? Being shot by someone you know. Tied up like that. Seeing it coming and all. In the face. Just terrible.” She had put her own spoon down in the bowl of soup. Her hands were grasping each other tensely in her lap.

“Would it have been better had she not known the person who shot her? Would it have been better to shoot her in the back of the head so she didn’t ever see her killer? Maybe it’s better to face it head on and see what you have coming at you. Face it and deal with it straight on.”

The woman stared at him, eyebrows raised in surprise. “How can you think that? That is horrible. I would never want to see it coming. Not by someone I know, tied up like that, unable to escape or stop the killer from shooting me in the face. You’re so cold about it.”

“Well I just see it as, whoever it was, he — and I think we can assume it’s a ‘he’ given how these things usually go — he wanted her to understand what was happening and to be clear about it. Maybe he wanted her to understand her fate and how she had arrived at that place. Explain himself to her before he ended it.”

The woman pushed her bowl away, and stared at him with a look that clearly showed he had just dropped a fair bit in her estimation. She looked dumbfounded. That’s when knew he’d likely have to kill her, too.


Additional weeks went by and he thought more and more of going through with his murderous intentions. Things were still close-to-new and he still enjoyed being with her most of the time, but he thought maybe someone brand new would be better. She probably still enjoyed him, too, though he was not sure how much. Not as much as before, he thought. He was cold by nature and she had started to see that after some time spent with him. His initial charms, though formidable upon first encounter, had waned on her.

So he decided on it and planned it thoroughly and the night finally came to carry it out. Once he had started, she responded at first like the other one, and asked him why.

“Because it’s your time and I’m the one who has to strike the hour,” he said. “It’s my role and I’m sorry that you are here at this place and time, in this situation, but it is what it is. There’s no reason to worry so much as to how or why it came to be. It just simply did.”

“What kind of shit is that?” she said, spit emitting from her clenched teeth. “Are you kidding me? Is this some kind of sick joke after that woman in Smith? This is not funny, asshole.” She struggled against the ties that bound her, her nightgown twisting and sliding up as she struggled. He thought she looked very attractive as she struggled. But it did not change his mind.

“It’s not a joke. I would never joke about this. I know we are of two minds about that woman and how it was done. I respect your opinion about it, but it was the only way. It’s the right way to go about it.”

“That was you.” She was not asking it so much as stating it, as if he did not know it was him that had killed her. She looked both surprised and disgusted at once. She stopped struggling and just stared at him.

“Yes, and I gave her the courtesy of looking her in the eye and explaining what I was doing and how she came to that point. I know you thought it cruel and unnecessary, but it was neither of those things. It was fair. I allowed her to face in no uncertain terms what was coming. Didn’t I owe her that?”

“Jesus Christ, you are insane,” she said. She struggled again at the bindings on her wrists, but to no avail. She was in a cushioned chair, one that looked like it belonged in an old Victorian home. It was beige, with wooden arm rests. It was too fancy for her apartment, he thought.

“There’s no point to that,” he said. “To calling me names or in trying to escape the ties. This is inevitable. This is happening as sure as the sun’ll rise tomorrow on a world in which you no longer live. That world — this world — will go on. You will not. That’s what’s meant to be. It’s already been decided.”

“By who?” she asked with hate in her eyes. “You, you sick fucking psycho?” Her anger surprised him. She strained at the bindings with ferocity, and he could see blood begin to trickle out from under them, down her hands. Her skin was delicate and the site of the blood on the palate of her dark, soft skin excited him.

“Why won’t you accept this? Why are you so angry? This is the result of a series of choices made by you, by me, and by countless others. It started when your father inseminated your mother and all the choices between then and now have led to this. I’m only the instrument. Being angry about it won’t change it or make it better.”

“I’m angry, you’re damn right. It’s not enough to kill me, but you’re gonna do it in the way I said would be horrible. The way I said I would never want it done. Do you not remember that, you bastard? We fucking talked about it.” She was nearly screaming at him.

“I remember what you said. I just think you were wrong about it. You want the easy way out. You want the painless exit, without fear or hurt. That’s not how it is supposed to work. Part of life is death and part of death is fear, loneliness, hurt, pain, and hopelessness. The exquisite agony of all of it is a crucial part of the journey. That journey ends now and to rob you of that closure would be unfair and cruel. This is the best way.”

“How dare you tell me the best way for me to face my own death. It’s not for you to say. It should be my choice, not yours.” She was crying but anger was still the emotion that carried her. She stopped struggling as much, fatigue and fear showing on her face, just below the anger.

“We are both intimately involved here,” he said. “You are the one experiencing the grief and anger of your coming death. I’m the instrument and will face your death in my own way in the causing of it. We both have a role to play. I’m sorry yours is the harder part, but yours will also be over very soon. Then all will be blackness and your anger will be gone.”

“Fuck you. Just do it, then.” And she closed her eyes in a last defiant act to take back some measure of control. It was a small consolation in the end.

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2 years ago

FRU!!!!! Dude…that was freakishly disturbing. Not so much the murder part, but the rationalization and justification process. I thought cockroaches were pretty high on my list of things to freak out about in life. I’ve had people in my life who twist everything around to be my fault, wrenching my anchor from its mooring and leaving me to question which way is up. Coping with that feeling is far worse than an infestation of nasty roaches… now that I think about it.

2 years ago
Reply to  Fru

Hahaha…Fru, it’s only “kind of dark” when you downgrade it from, like, Navy SEAL missions and burning buildings. This is psychologically intense. I’m impressed. And still shrugging off the creepy crawlies.

2 years ago

FRU!! Wonderful too know your still writing. Excellent writing. Your character took me back a bit to H.H. Holmes, serial killer late 1800’s. Non-Fiction “The Devil in the White City” by Erik Larson. Frightening thought to realize there really are people like that lurking out there.

Joni Smith
Joni Smith
2 years ago

Fru! Great to see your writing and what a way to make a debut. This story falls in the “do you ever really know someone” category. Disturbing and captivating.

2 years ago

Fru! So great to see you writing again! I hope we see many more pieces from you. I hope you, Mrs Fru & the Fruettes are doing awesomely!

Susan B
Susan B
2 years ago

Glad to see your name at the bottom of this, Fru. I’ve missed your writing. This one pretty much blew me away. Guess I wasn’t prepared for the content. You appear to be dipping into the darker sides of humanity. You have definitely captured the psychopathic mind set in your character. Knowing your background, I would imagine you have seen your share of people that justified ending a life under various rationales. Some…probably far from rational. This story could have come from the pen of E A Poe. You captured that quiet drive toward killing but without the beating of… Read more »

Julia Hugo Rachel
Julia Hugo Rachel
2 years ago

Interesting Read. I like that you are writing-deep. Showing the Psychopath his beginning and quickly evolving “kills” is interesting-as you do it in first person. Reminds me of certain bad actors that explain everything and enjoy explaining to the victim why they are getting lit. KEEP WRITING!!!

2 years ago

Fru this is remarkable. That feature image tho… I cannot write fiction — my compliments, brother. geo sends

2 years ago

Magnificent read, Fru; you are a good hand at fiction.
geo sends

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