Tiny Killers

    People always look at them and see innocent children. But I know what they are: killers, heartless tiny killers.

    The three boys became quick friends at the daycare where I worked. They were all in first grade, and spent the afternoons there after school. Inseparable, they always played together, whispered their secrets, laughed hysterically at their inside jokes.

    The three little amigos, my boss Sandra called them. Oh, they're so adorable. 

    So adorable. That’s why everyone believed them when they accused me of drowning Carson in the handicap stall toilet.

     

    Pinky, he’s the youngest. His face a warm shade of pink, he looked like a cherub. The most innocent looking of the three but also the most deadly. It was Pinky who was holding Caron's head underwater in the toilet when I burst into the bathroom. It was Pinky who pointed the finger at me when Sandra came in afterwards as I was trying to resuscitate Carson. Pinky's eyes were wide in horror when he was explaining what he supposedly saw to Sandra.

    There’s Two-Faced, aka Kevin, the other amigo. He was in a car accident. A drunk driver killed his father and Kevin had to undergo extensive plastic surgery. The kids call him Two-Faced, or Two, for short. 

    Tommy was the third. Not smart, not stupid either, but absolutely devoted to Pinky and Two.

     

    Carson had been killed because he took Pinky's Lego man. Kids are simple that way. This Lego man was Pinky's most prized possession. When I pulled Pinky off of Carson and had tried to revive him, the Lego man was on the floor. In the confusion of things, somehow the Lego man had ended up in my pocket. I don't remember putting it there. But after I was bailed out for an enormous sum of money and received back my possessions, the Lego man was among the items. 

     

    I knew that the only way to prove my innocence was to film them, to catch them in the act when they killed again. Once they had experienced the thrill of taking another person’s life and getting away with murder, they would want to do it again. Kids are like that.

    That's why I began to follow them.

     

    Pinky's mother picked them up at the after school childcare, and they all walked home together. Two and Tommy's parents would each pick them up at Pinky's house. They had more time to play in the backyard that way. 

    All the neighbors loved them. On their walk home they greeted the neighbors politely. If they saw someone struggling with carrying groceries into the house, they were quick to help.

    They loved to run and give dogs hugs.

    The grandmothers on the street gave them candy.

    At home, they mostly stayed in the backyard, but sometimes, when Pinky's mother wasn't looking, they would escape into the back alley and roam the back streets.

    I had a hard time keeping up, they moved so quickly, and that's why I wasn't in time to catch them kill Hendrix S. Pierce, a local homeless man. Pierce had an obsession with round objects, balls, anything spherical. He collected them in his shopping cart.

    They beat him with a baseball bat, which later they claimed he had stolen from Pinky's yard. 

    I came upon them staring over the body, the bloodied baseball bat to the side. When they saw me, they smiled. I was fumbling to get out my camera, my hands shaking. You're next, Pinky said as they ran past.

     

    He's really the most terrific young man, Sandra was saying.

    She and Pinky were being interviewed on the local news.

    He's so smart, caring, Sandra said. I always see him helping his friends, and being kind to others. He's always smiling.

    Pinky gave a little charming smile to the camera.

    I'm so sorry that he had to witness what he did, Sandra said. But he's so smart and was able to be brave and explain what happen.

    Sandra was trying to keep her childcare center open, after Carson's death. It was understandable, the backlash, the investigation into the safety of the center.

    This is just an isolated incident, Pinky's mother was saying. We trust Sandra absolutely with the safety of our children. It's really dreadful, dreadful, what happen.

    Pinky's mother and Sandra were good friends. They were looking out for each other here.

    He always scared me, Pinky said. That man. He was very scary.

    They showed a picture of me: overweight, long hair, a mustache. I did look like a child killer.

    I was trying to lose weight. My hair was cut now. That was on old picture.

    Pinky looked at the camera and smiled again. He was taunting me.

     

    I saw them formulating the next murder. They would kill old Mrs. Winkle. Already they knew to prey on the vulnerable. Mrs. Wrinkle used to pay neighborhood boys twenty bucks to clear her sidewalk and driveway after it snowed or to do little chores around the house. She talked to herself. She talked about the money she had hidden in her house. One evening when the boys escaped the yard they went to her house. They watched her, whispered their plans. I saw them sneak up to a window and look in.

    The next day they did the same. I had my camera ready. I was torn between warning her and wanting to catch them in the act. They picked up rocks, big rocks.

    Two rang the doorbell. He would lure her outside perhaps where they would attack her. 

    I heard Two say hi.

    We're raising money for our soccer team, Two said. Would you like to donate?

    She disappeared and came back with money.

    Thank you so much, Two said. God Bless.

    Two went away and went over to Pinky and Tommy. They all high-fived, and ran off. I followed them to the candy store.

     

    I was tired. Tired of following these kids around. Tired of defending myself. I had to prepare for my trial. This was madness.

    My front doorbell rang. Neighbors in my building had seen the news footage and were angrily ringing my bell as a way to annoy me, to protest me.

    Killer, they'd yell as they walked down the hall past my door. Someone had spray painted "Pedofile" on my door.

    I'm not going anywhere, I yelled.

    The bell ran again.

    I have a right to stay--, I began to say as I opened the door.

    No one was there.

    I heard my bedroom window open.

    I hurried there and found Pinky, Two, and Tommy standing with the large rocks they'd taken from Mrs. Winkle's.

    I walked back slowly into the living room.  

    Where is it? Pinky said.

    What? I said.

    The Lego man, he said. 

    I don't have it, I said.

    Listen, you may think it's just a little toy, but it's very important to me. To all of us. So give it back.

    I'll give it back if you tell the truth about what happened, how you killed Carson.

    No one's going to believe I killed him, he said. I'm just a cute little kid.

    Two had circled behind me and threw the rock.

    It hit me on the back of my head. I fell down on my knees.

    Pinky was quick. He got up on a chair and stood over me. He brought the rock over his head and was about to bring it down on me.

    Smile for the camera, I said.

    What? he said, hesitating.

    You're being filmed, I said. Everyone's going to know what you did.

    Find it, Pinky said, and Two and Tommy began to tear up my apartment, looking for the camera.

    I grabbed the chair Pinky was standing on and he came crashing down. I jumped on him. My hands were around his throat. Two and Tommy jumped on me, hitting me with their fists and grabbing my hair.

    I wouldn't let go. His neck was so tiny, and I squeezed as hard as I could.

    When Pinky stopped struggling, Two and Tommy ran off.

    I was crying. This isn't why I had gotten into childcare. I loved being with kids. What had I done? I called 911. 

    I felt blood trickle down my neck and a loud, painful crack on my head.

    I was on the floor, dazed.

    Pinky wrapped a belt around my neck and was pulling it.

    I took out the Lego man from my pocket. I stabbed him in the eye with it.

    He screamed, grabbing at his face.

    That's how the police found us.

     

    They'll let Pinky out when he's eighteen. Two and Tommy as well.

    I wonder about their release date sometimes. Whether they will come find me. Pinky was a vengeful little fellow. 

    I'm getting my life back to normal. I'm even dating.

    The other night, my girlfriend asked me, So, do you want kids?