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Some say that life begins in the womb and others say at birth, whatever the case may actually be, life began for Dalton Eimer at the age of nine. It was on a fateful April afternoon when a blue Prius stopped next to Dalton who was walking alone on his way home from school. Dalton was not a popular kid, in fact he was a loner. It wasn't as if he was stupid, ugly or deficient in some way, rather he was too sufficient, too ahead of his classmates. He was smarter, more handsome, and wealthier than most of them and that had bred resentment among them. The elderly, white haired and liver spot-covered driver casually rolled down the passenger window and looked across the driver seat at Eimer. It wasn't hard to tell that the boy was glum based upon his posture.
“Hey there, lad. Why aren't you with your friends?” the man asked.
“Friends? Yeah, like I have some of those.”
“Oh. Well, I could be your friend.”
Although smart for his age, Dalton hadn't been told the basic principles: 'don't talk to strangers', 'don't take rides from strangers' and 'don't accept food from strangers'. This group of failings was born of the fact that his parents ignored him in favor of their careers and each other; not so much that they disliked him, but rather that they were just terrible parents. On that day, Dalton would break all three of those important principles that are supposed to shield children. The young boy beamed his best smile and climbed into the passenger seat. The man began to drive as the two sat in silence. After a while, Dalton realized that he hadn't told him where he lived and not only that, but they were going in the wrong direction of his house.
“Hey, my house is back that way,” the nine year old pointed while replying to emphasize his point.
“We're going to my house for ice cream. You look sad and, well, ice cream always cheers me up.”
Dalton simply nodded and remained quiet after that due to not knowing what to say. Eventually, the car pulled up to a trailer home. The man exited the car, opened the car door for the boy, and then the front door. As luck would have it, the two had ice cream and the old man returned Dalton home; no molestation or murder took place and the two became the best of friends. The friendship was a very strange one, but it was true. Upon turning eleven, the old man, who had become known to Dalton as Fritz Shibler, taught him how to use a gun and took him hunting. At the age of twelve, Dalton introduced Fritz as his middle school teacher to his parents. Thirteen was a fun year for the growing kid as Dalton was taught how to fist fight. At the age of fourteen and fifteen, his melee skills were expanded upon even more. His junior year of high school was important for both him and Fritz. Fritz showed his friend some mementos from the second great war for the first time.
Awe filled the young man as he looked over the dark foreboding uniform, the blood red armband, and the swastika that adorned it.
“How many did you kill?” Dalton asked.
“I'd say ninety some. Although, about thirty of them have been since the war.”
“That's so cool. Do you still do it?”
“Sometimes. Would you like to help?”
The two parked down the street from an unimpressive one-story house with red trim and black paint at 2:07 AM. The two stared at it as the old man began to advise, “I want you to note the yard. Do you see how tidy it is? This is to our benefit. Always check for leaves because their crunching could damn us, not only that, but they can also cover holes in the yard which could lead to you spraining your ankle and getting caught. Having an escape route planned is always the most important thing, even more so than knowing about your target. If for some reason you are unable to make it back to this car, I want you to run down that alleyway, climb the fire-escape, and lie low on the rooftop for a few hours. Got it?”
Dalton nodded while he absorbed the information as it was relayed to him. He reached for the passenger door, but stopped himself and turned to face Fritz. “What do I do if the house is locked, bust a window?”
Fritz gave out a coarse laugh and shook his head, “No, that'd make too much noise. Noise isn't necessarily a bad thing though. Try to think of some noises you could cause that are not suspicious in nature and would be to your benefit,” Fritz hinted.
Dalton gulped and exited the car. Although clad in black, he felt quite visible to the world and, to make things worse, his crossing the yard seemed to take forever. He could feel Fritz's eyes boring into the back of his skull, while his cameo-gloved hand turned the knob and he was met with the discovery that the door was locked. The sixteen year-old let out a quiet, frustrated grunt and walked around to the other side of the house to escape the view of the street. Scanning up and down the side of the house, he spotted something that caused the switch in his brain to flip. “Well, I spy with my little eye,” he muttered while he turned on the faucet attached to the side of the house.
It needs something more though. The teenager brought his foot down onto the plastic nozzle, causing it to nearly break off from the house and water to gush out. A few minutes had passed since he had slunk off to hide in the shadows before the sound of the front door opening and a flashlight beam caught his attention. The sound of running water had drawn the homeowner out of his house and the broken faucet would lead him to believe that he simply had a bad leak. Dalton went around the opposite side of the house and quietly entered the front room, while stifling a snicker.
The lights were still on from when the owner had ventured outside. Moving quickly, but stealthily, Dalton followed the hallway and peeked in all of the rooms, before finding the only one with a bed and stepping inside. A couple of shelves, bookcases, a dresser with a television and telephone on top, and a closet adorned the room in addition to the bed, obviously. The sound of the front door opening and an elderly man cursing under his breath alerted Dalton who hid in the closet. When Dalton had been in the process of entering the closet and closing the door, he had caught a brief glimpse of a flag with red on it. Better than nothing, he had thought as he picked it up. Dalton waited patiently as the pitter-patter of footsteps entered the room. Much to young Eimer's surprise they had stopped at the closet door, instead of at the dresser with the telephone or the bed. Had he been found out?
The door slowly creaked open and an elderly man reached out with his flashlight-carrying hand to assumedly place the flashlight on the closet shelf, this was cut short by Dalton lurching forward and shoving the flag into the surprised man's mouth. The old man fell backward and onto the ground due to a combination of surprise and the force that the teenager had supplied. It was entirely unclear to Dalton if the man had died from having his windpipe blocked by the flag or from the fall. The freshly made killer pulled the flag from his victim's mouth and saw to his horror that the flag was red, white and blue; American. A Nazi wouldn't have a United States flag in their closet, would they?
After a delay, Dalton found himself back in the passenger seat of the Prius.
“Did you get him?”
“Yeah,” he replied in an irritated tone.
“Come. I'm going to check your handiwork for errors.”
“Errors?” Dalton replied in anger as he followed Shibler from the car and to the house. “This isn't some school test!”
The elder brought his finger to his own nose to signal the boy to cease talking. After the two had entered the house, the German gave his response. “One foul-up and it's all over. Did you touch your face or any bare skin against anything?”
The apprentice shook his head in response as he followed the experienced man into the bedroom.
“Nice and clean. How did he die?” pressed the man as he observed the scene.
“I-I suffocated him... with a flag.”
“Hold on a second. I think I can improve this,” Fritz replied as he disappeared down the hallway in search of something.
Dalton listened as many of the building's doors were opened and closed until Fritz Shibler returned with a stool in hand. The stool-wielder made sure that the closet door was propped open with the dead man's left foot and he set the stool down in the closet on its side, so as to give the illusion that it had been knocked over.
“Many say that honesty is the best policy, but I prefer subtlety.”
“Speaking of honesty, what the hell? You led me to believe that I was going to kill a Nazi!” Dalton screamed as he balled up a fist and hit it against the wall.
Although taken aback, Fritz was quick and calm in his reply, “No, I didn't. I'm sorry that you misunderstood.”
“Misunderstood? Misunderstood! I killed someone! Who did I even kill?”
“Dalton, sometimes we refuse to see what we don't want to. I had believed that showing you my war uniform was pretty clear-cut in regards to whom I served. The individual before you was a World War II veteran who I had followed home from the local veteran's hall.”
“Oh, God. I killed an American.”
“I don't see why it matters to you so much. All of your classmates that you don't get along with and who ignore and pick on you are American, while I am not. The way you should look at it is that he is the same as them and that the Nazis are the same as me, the guy who is your friend. Up to this point, you have found yourself able to trust me and I would like to point out that I found myself able to trust the Nazi party in the same way. Much of what you've heard and learned in your school books are a fabrication and the corruption of fact...” Fritz went on and on in reply. Although Fritz's arguments were not true, perception is reality and in Dalton's reality it became the absolute truth.
The friendship of the two lasted until a day in 1985 where an eighty-year old Fritz, who was bed-ridden and hooked up to an oxygen machine, gazed into the eyes of his friend and spoke in between puffs of the oxygen, “We've taken many lives up to this point, however, my part in the war is over. I ask that you put this wounded soldier out of his misery. Please, please unplug me.”
The twenty year-old's eyes followed the wires from the machine to the electrical outlet with hesitance. His life had been at its best with Fritz in the mix and quite frankly he couldn't imagine or even begin to mentally prepare himself for a life without him. The cancer had been so sudden and so very forceful. The devil's disease had cannibalized the elder's body without mercy or pause. Dalton nodded at his friend, knelt down, gripped the plug and began to lightly tug at it. He let go and looked back up at his only friend in the world with tears clouding his vision, “I can't,” he managed.
The young man steeled himself and tried again. He was met with failure.
“I've killed so many people, but...”
It took half an hour worth of attempts and failures before Dalton finally managed to pull the plug. Thus Fritz Shibler, the ex-Nazi, had exited the world stage and Dalton had become his inheritor. Not only had all of Fritz's personal effects been passed on to Dalton, but Fritz's war, an unspoken extension of World War II, had become Dalton Eimer's war. The murderer plied his trade with great success for nearly two more decades. The “casualties” had reached upward toward ninety and the vast majority of them were seen as accidents or age-related due to the victims being elderly, none suspected that a mass murderer was at large. In September of 2002, a fateful encounter would drastically change Dalton's life.
It was broad daylight when Dalton parked across the street from an unremarkable red-colored two-story house in the handed-down Prius. Dalton thought about how easy it had been to stalk Abraham home from the Veteran's Hall on the previous week as he strolled up to the door with an empty pizza box in hand and knocked. After a moment's pause, an elderly, hunch-backed, grey-haired man with a snow-white beard answered the door.
“I didn't order any pizza,” he responded upon eying the closed pizza box.
“This one is on the house, I insist,” the thirty seven year-old replied coldly and shoved the old man back into the house.
A smile crossed Dalton's face as he watched the old man fall onto the floor back first. A slight crunch escaped from the World War II Veteran's body upon touching the floor. All too easy, or so he thought. The sound of chair legs skidding across the floor filled the room and Dalton realized that he had fouled-up; he wasn't alone.
A man of stocky build with light brown hair and in police uniform ran in from the other room. Abraham's son. Dalton bolted for it and had made it onto the porch when the sharp stabbing and tingling pain surged through his back bringing him to the ground. As he convulsed in pain he realized that he hadn't been shot as he had at first assumed, but rather he had been tazed.
What an oversight on my part, was all that he could think to himself as he was processed and awaited trial without the possibility of bail. At least his parents didn't come visit him in jail as he would have found that awkward, for once he was grateful for becoming estranged from them. Eventually, the day of the trial came and he had armed himself with the best lawyer he could afford and defense he could come up with. Eimer claimed that he had shown up to rob the house and the startled old man fell backward and died. Despite his defense and the vigor of his defense attorney, the judge threw the book at him and sentenced him to thirty years in prison.
The years were long, but the possibility of parole and the delight in the fact that he was only prosecuted for the one murder and not the ninety odd others kept him going. Thirteen years into his prison sentence, Dalton was surprised when the steel door to his cell creaked open and a thin male who was of light build, lacking in the hair department, and was equipped with hawk-shaped eyes entered. The newcomer quietly regarded the inmate who was lying on a bed for a couple of moments before speaking, “Dalton Eimer?”
Dalton slumped his back upward from the bed to where it and his scraggly, hair-covered head were against the wall, “Yes?”
“Would you be interested in participating in a television special about prisons and their inmates?”
The two men were escorted to a closed off room with a wooden table, two chairs, a window, and a tripod camera. An idea hit Dalton right before filming began, wouldn't it be funny if I just spilled everything, but omitted Fritz's name from it? It would go to show just how ineffective and unsafe a country like this truly is. And so he did. The newcomer who had introduced himself as Mitchell Thorn listened out of shock and uncontained curiosity.
The two men talked back and forth for hours until the door unexpectedly opened and a black-suited person who was all too familiar to Dalton Eimer walked in. The man in the suit adjusted his glasses before reaching over and shoving the tripod camera to the ground as he approached Dalton who had shot him a smile.
“Hey! You can't do that!” screamed Mitchell upon his camera being knocked to the ground.
“Oh, I believe I can. Mr. Eimer here is a free man. After being convinced to re-review the case and the sentencing, Judge Hasoldor came to the conclusion that he was guilty of trespassing at best and had already served any such sentence that it may have warranted.”
“Well, you heard Percy,” Dalton said as he stood up, stepped on the camera thus smashing the evidence and stopping at his friend's side.
“How the-” Mitchell started to say before Percy Roberts' voice overrode his.
“That's Senator Roberts to you,” Percy replied in a joking tone.
“C'mon, thirteen years is a long time, Percy. Oh, and Mitchell Thorn? Children are our future, that's how.”
After a few preliminaries, the two men exited the prison, and Dalton slid into the passenger seat of a certain blue Prius, while Percy took the wheel.
“So, a Senator, huh? God, I haven't seen you since you were nineteen. You still doing the good work or are you married to your paying job?”
“Becoming a Senator was a hell of a lot of work, that's for sure, but you know, it makes covering up the killings a whole lot easier and that's too much of a rush to give up on.”
“Ah, I see. I'm certainly glad that you never got caught like stupid ol' me. Geez, I'm nowhere near as talented as Fritz was at this.”
Senator Roberts let out a laugh, “All humble now, are we? What kept you going in there for all this time?”
“Pfft, I guess. At first it was the possibility of parole and then it was the delight in knowing that I was still getting away with ninety kills, but... Toward the end it was just, and this is dark, outlasting the remnants of World War II.”
Laughter shook the cab of the Prius. After Percy's laughter died down he asked the most serious of questions in the most natural of tones, “So, does that mean you are done? Are you just going to wait them out?”
A smile spread across Dalton Eimer's face as he spoke, “Hell no, I've probably got ten to twenty more years of this.”
Written by Doom Vroom